Light On/ Light Off

Spectrum Health is consistently evaluating ways to enhance the patient experience, improve patient safety, and patient outcomes.  Team Butterworth and Blodgett Pride are two venues used to make such enhancements and improvements. These teams were challenged to work on anticipating the needs of patients and families.  Members from Team Butterworth and Blodgett Pride sought feedback from frontline staff to identify barriers in anticipating patients and family’s needs.  From a nursing perspective, the anticipation of needs correlates closely the Relationship Based Care (RBC) component of hourly rounds.

Bedside nurses identified call lights as a barrier to conducting hourly rounds and anticipating patients and family’s needs.  Based on this information a team from both Team Butterworth and Blodgett Pride was assembled to address call lights.  The team consisted of bedside nurses, nursing assistants, unit secretaries, nurse managers, patient and family advisory council member, consultants from the center for exceptional experiences, and information system employees that support the nurse call system.

Using the A3 process, the team evaluated and tested new ways of answering call lights in order to reduce the barrier to anticipating patient and family needs and to enhance the patient’s experience.  This initiative also highlighted that Spectrum Health’s patients were not satisfied with the current response time to answering call lights. Based on data from the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey half of the patients did not receive help as soon as they needed when they pressed the call light; endangering their safety and putting human dignity at stake.

Based on this data the team identified the current process to respond to nurse call lights was not effective and required re-design.  A series of six experiments were implemented on 1E, a 22-bed Medical Surgical unit at Blodgett Hospital, and 2 South a 38-bed Orthopeadic and Progressive Care unit at Butterworth Hospital.  Upon completion of the experiments a new call light process was created.  This process, which decreased the steps of answering a call light from 30 steps to 3, includes the following key components:

  • When a call light was activated, any unit staff that saw or heard the call light would enter the room and address the patients need in the moment unless they were dealing with an emergent situation.
  • Call lights were not programmed to the ASCOM phones between 0700 – 2300.
  • Patient assignments became geographically based.  
  • As a safety measure the Unit Secretary monitors the call lights from the desk area.  When a call light goes off for three minutes the secretary goes into the patient room to see what the patient need is and contacts the appropriate person.  

The implementation of the new call light process has resulted in the following outcomes:

  • An improvement of 62% in the response time to answer a call light.  Prior to the implementation of the new call light process it took over 2 minutes to answer call lights on 1E and approximately 5 minutes to answer call lights on 2 South.  The implementation of the new call light process has resulted in an average call light response time of less than 1 minute and 40 seconds.
  • Patient satisfaction scores from the HCAHPS survey have increased from 12-20%.  

Plans are to implement the new call light process to areas at Butterworth and Blodgett in early June and additional campuses thereafter.

2 South – Response of hospital staff –
call button help soon as wanted it


2 South – Response of hospital staff –
need help bathroom/using bedpan


1E — Response of Hospital Staff —
call button help soon as wanted it


1E — Response of Hospital Staff —
need help bathroom/ using bedpan


Team members:

Sue Proctor Nurse Manager BL 1E MBA, BSN, RN
Linda Schaltz Nurse Manager BW 2S  MSN, RN, ONC
Hillary Jansen BSN, RN, PCCN
Jo Lynn Scheidel Unit Secretary
Dale Reinke PFAC member
Patrick Belote IS
Andrea Leslie MSN, RN, NE-BC
Molly Christians BSN, RN-BC, PCCN
Jody Kinney BSN RN CPE
Michelle Lancaster BS, RN
Nicole Gibson BSN, RN
Heather Duffin BSN, RN
Elise Chirco NT
Julie Antonopulos BSN, RN
Valerie Desantis Unit Secretary
Nicole Proctor BSN, RN, CMSRN