Pat was a TV news anchor and medical reporter in Providence for more than 20 years, until her otherwise healthy father fell down the stairs and landed in the hospital. A hospital-acquired infection, Clostridium difficile, ruptured his intestines and took his life 6 months later.
Pat launched an informational website about staying safe from infection in the hospital, lobbied successfully to pass two state laws improving patient safety, and for the past two years has been honored to be among a small group of patient advocates invited to contribute at the IHI annual forum in Orlando. She serves on the HAI reporting advisory committee for the Rhode Island Department of Health, and on the Advisory Board to the Small Business Development Center at Johnson & Wales University.
But Pat felt more could be done. The many hours she spent at her father's bedside offered insights into how being hospitalized - even in the finest hospitals - erodes not just health, but autonomy and dignity. In Pat's father's case, his hearing aids were ruined within the first week of his hospital stay (water from his cluttered bed table spilled on them). As a bedridden patient, he had no access to hand hygiene (the sanitizer dispensers are bolted to the wall). While caregivers could leave notes on the white board in his room, her father had no way to communicate to a changing constellation of caregivers that they needed to speak up so he could hear them. There was also no "go-to" place for his eyeglasses or cell phone, such that they would not be moved out of reach or fall on the floor.
It was only after losing her father that Pat began to put all these things together. The fact that there were so many "unmet needs" for patients was sadly out of synch with the consumer-focused approach provided by other businesses, from tax preparers to nail salons. (And it's tragically ironic that in hospitals, people are dying - at a rate of 370 per day - from infections alone!)
Pat launched the Patient Pod in 2011, following successful patient trials in 7 hospitals around the country. Currently the device is being trialed as a tool to reduce re-admissions rates, by serving as a "constant" in managing key medical information across the continuum of care.