Good safety advancement at Sentara

Published 10:16 pm Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Health care organizations like Sentara live and die on safety. If they can’t keep sick and injured people safe from further illness or injury while they’re in the care of the health organization, let’s be honest — it won’t do anybody much good.

Sentara took another step toward keeping folks safe recently when it unveiled SentarAlert, which sends text messages regarding critical safety situations to people who have signed up.

These messages could be about an active shooter, which has become an all-too-common nightmare scenario in America. They could be about an evacuation needed for some other man-made disaster or perhaps a natural occurrence or equipment failure.


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In the future, Sentara hopes to add alerts for significant weather in the area. For example, if a tornado were to be spotted near the hospital — perhaps like the tornado that struck Suffolk on April 28, 2008, causing minor damage to Sentara Obici Hospital — folks could be alerted to stay inside if they were about to leave.

Previously, Sentara had the ability to send similar messages, but only to their staff. Now, anyone who wants to do so can be included.

Not only will patients and their family members be able to keep track of what’s going on through the alerts, but also non-Sentara physicians, student physicians from Eastern Virginia Medical School and others will be able to sign up.

Those who sign up will be included for a week and then will receive a notification that they have been unsubscribed, with the option to resubscribe. This will be best for patients and their families.

The world is changing rapidly, and in many cases, that’s unfortunate. It’s easy to wish that such a phrase as “active shooter” were not in the everyday vocabulary of so many Americans. But since it is, and since other dangerous situations can also occur, organizations like Sentara would be negligent in their duties if they did not do everything possible to communicate in such a circumstance and mitigate any possible effects.