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New Ulm Medical Center

Personal Response System provides safety for elderly in their own home

When certain illness strikes, chronic diseases set in, or one has to deal with some of the difficulties that come with age, the ability to live independently becomes increasingly difficult and yet is more treasured with every day that passes. Personal response systems have become one of the best tools allowing aging or chronically ill community members to live independently with a greater sense of safety and security, said Kris Guggisberg, manager of the New Ulm branch of Allina Health Home Oxygen and Medical Equipment (HOME).

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There are several options available when it comes to Personal Response Systems. Pictured left to right are: Lifeline by Philips (call goes to a 24/7 response center); Allina Personal Response System (call goes to Allina Response Center 24/7); Freedom Alert (multiple setting options – will call up to four programmed numbers of choice and 911); and Guardian 911 (calls 911 only).

There are several options for people, all of which are available to be worn as a wrist band, belt clip or lanyard:

  • A device that will call 911 when the button is pushed.
  • A device that will call up to four people and then 911 – which in addition can be programmed to call just those four people or just 911.
  • A device that will sense if there is a sudden motion which might indicate an injury or fall. When that happens, the company will call the patient to see if he/she is okay and if they do not receive an answer, will call 911 for the client.
  • A new fourth option is a Personal Response System that calls an Allina Health response center, where the client will reach a trained medical professional.

“The benefit of the fourth option is that if you are within the Allina system (as a patient), all your records are immediately available to the person answering the call,” Guggisberg said. That experienced professional can review the problem the caller is experiencing and help you resolve the situation. They will be able to dispatch an ambulance from your community, or if you are uncertain they will help you decide if you need an ambulance.

The person on the other end of that phone call, Guggisberg said, is also able to conference in a family member if necessary.

“They can review the problem and try to solve it before they have to call an ambulance or be admitted to the hospital,” she said. “No one wants to be in the hospital if they don’t have to be. We are also hopeful that this will help reduce hospital readmissions for the patients in our community who are most at risk.”

Patients who are enrolled in Allina’s Home Care after being discharged from a hospital stay are able to receive this device when they go home for up to 90 days for free of charge.

Between the four different options, Guggisberg said, there is a fit for everyone.

“Everyone has a different level of comfort and we want to make sure we get the right device for each person,” Guggisberg said.

For more information about each of these devices, call HOME – New Ulm at 507-217-5585.