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February 14, 2024

Guardians of Care

In an era marked by unprecedented challenges to hospitals, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the safety and well-being of our healthcare professionals has become of paramount importance to our members. 

Even before the pandemic, violence against healthcare workers was a major problem. Studies indicate healthcare employees were five times as likely to experience workplace violence as other workers, with roughly three-fourths of all nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses due to violence in the workplace occurring in our field. 

Against this backdrop, Prisma Health has been taking a proactive approach to tackling the problem through a comprehensive, systemwide workplace safety taskforce. As part of their duties, the taskforce responds to individual incidents via panic button badges that empower every team member in the system to navigate potential security threats.  

SCHA recently spoke with Mike Bundy, the Prisma Health Midlands Market CEO, about how Prisma Health made a pivotal decision to equip team members with panic buttons, the mechanics of this innovative security system, and the resounding impact it has had on fostering a safer environment for those on the front lines of healthcare. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity. 

Did your system see an increase in attacks on healthcare workers during the pandemic? 

I want to point out that the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a 63% increase in violent attacks against medical professionals from 2011 to 2018. Hospital safety directors [in our hospitals] have noted that aggression against staff surged during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. 

How did the decision to equip team members with panic buttons? 

It’s an integral part of our system-wide workplace safety taskforce, which is dedicated to identifying, tracking, and mitigating or preventing incidents at its hospitals. Nursing leadership played a crucial role in recognizing the importance of these alerts as a tool for mitigation.  

How many team members have panic badges? 

More than 20,000 Prisma Health team members, including nurses and physicians, have been equipped with these badges. New team members in public-facing areas receive them during onboarding. 

How do the badges work? 

The wearable badge offers team members a discreet means of alerting security personnel with just two simple taps. Additionally, subscribed personnel within a designated range receive notifications, enabling them to aid before security arrives, if needed. The swift response time has garnered widespread satisfaction among staff, with many expressing appreciations for the remarkable efficiency witnessed in real-time.  

Observing the system in action has significantly shifted perceptions, as it outpaces any previously employed methods. This heightened speed not only enhances security measures but also instills a heightened sense of protection, fostering a safer environment for our valued staff. 

Who was the vendor you partnered with that supplied the badges? 

Prisma Health partnered with Commure Strongline to supply the panic button badges. 

When did team members get their badges? 

The project began as a pilot in three Prisma Health hospitals in November 2022 and was later established in all acute care facilities by June 2023. 

What was the staff’s reaction when they received their new panic button badges? 

Since this decision was made after listening to staff’s concerns, they have been very receptive to the program, understanding that it is implemented to protect them. While there have been some concerns about location tracking, most staff comprehend its necessity for the program’s success. Participation is voluntary, and the majority of staff are actively participating. 

Are there plans to equip off-site offices and clinics with similar security notification equipment? 

Traditional panic buttons are strategically installed around off-site offices and clinics. Responding to alerts in a timely manner is crucial, and in many cases, local law enforcement may be a closer option for off-site locations. 

About Michael Bundy: 

Headshot of Mike Bundy, Prisma Health Midlands Market CEO

Mike Bundy began serving as Chief Executive Officer for both Baptist and Baptist Parkridge hospitals and their surrounding campuses in Columbia in 2019. Since that time, his CEO role has expanded to the Midlands Market of Prisma Health adding Columbia’s Richland Hospital and the Tuomey Hospital in Sumter.  

Bundy has more than two decades of health care leadership experience focused on implementing LEAN principles and metrics management, along with creating high-performing teams of providers and staff that improve qualitative outcomes for the patients being served. Before joining Prisma Health, he was senior vice president and chief operating officer at Cape Cod Healthcare in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  

He received a bachelor’s degree with a major in economics from West Virginia University. His Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree was earned at Tiffin University in Tiffin, Ohio.  

An advocate of forming strong ties with the community, Bundy works with the local community as a board member of the United Way of the Midlands, supporting WellPartners eye and dental clinics, and as a member of the United Way Economic Impact committee and its Race, Equity and Inclusion committee. He and his wife, Amanda recently co-chaired The Columbia Heart Walk for the American Heart Association. They live in Richland County.