Injury Prevention Seminar

"Ceiling Lifts & The Zero Lift Standard"

University of Buffalo North Campus - "Center for Tomorrow"
April 25, 2002

Comments of a Ceiling Lift User:
Presentation by - William T. Bohm

I work for an Architectural and Engineering Firm by the name of Clark Patterson Associates designing heating, ventilating, air conditioning & environmental control systems for many types of facilities, including long term care facilities. However, I am here today to discuss my personal hands-on experience with overhead track mounted patient lift systems .

My wife Donna was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) during the summer of 1997 & it was clear that we needed to learn a great deal (in a very short period of time) regarding

  • The most current "Quality of Life Care Strategies"
  • The equipment to make those strategies possible

During this "Focus Group Discussion” portion of the program I have been asked to discuss patient overhead lift systems based on my actual hands on experience . First of all I would to convey that a systems of this sort is extremely important  whether in a -

  • nursing home setting
  • residential home setting

Clearly the goals "are common goals"

  1. Safe injury free lifting, transferring, and positioning of patients
  2. Recognizing the overall importance of the caregivers safety in accomplishing those efforts relative to maintaining un-interrupted caregiver assistance.
  3.  Properly equipping those who’s duties involve patient lifts & transfers .

We are told by Insurance Company Health Risk Consultants that Health Care Providers need to "Catch up with other Industries" in obtaining & implementing equipment to protect workers from injuries. At General Motors plants for instance , in order to limit worker injuries, lifting items heaver than 35 pounds is prohibited.

During our particular  journey with ALS we found that there are many individuals that consider ceiling type lift systems deluxe unnecessary equipment.

 While a floor type lift  (which rolls along the floor on small wheels), has its place in certain circumstances, it requires at least two or more care givers to safely transfer a patient laterally. In addition it is not maneuverable in narrow passageways /  doorways. Nor can it lift patients into & out of bathtubs.

We had  an overhead track mounted lift system during Donna’s illness & it resulted in -

  • Safe transfers
  • Zero injuries to caregivers (allowing for un-interrupted continuous care)
  • Therapeutic baths & follow-on range of motion exercises (limiting muscle contractures, & other medical complications)
  • No falls , broken bones, injuries or hospitalizations
  • No pneumonia's or pressure sores (made possible in part because of our ability to move and reposition Donna regularly)
  • Donna was able to be up & dressed in clothes of her choice participating  with her family and friends every day throughout our three and a half year journey with ALS .

I urge you to equip your staff to be able to effectively and safely achieve your extended patient care goals.

If you are a staff member working to achieve those goals I urge you not to be deterred in conveying to your supervisors & administration the information that you have learned today relative to both the cost effectiveness & operational benefits of overhead lift systems.

There are those that would say that their particular facility is not structurally or physically adaptable to installing the track and associated hardware necessary to for an overhead lift system.

In response to that comment let me tell you that I have spent 40 years designing much heavier HVAC ductwork & piping systems etc., all of which require support at or above ceilings. Installing an overhead track mounted lift system (if properly designed by an architect / engineering firm), can be accomplished in a cost effective manner in virtually every type of building (new or existing).

 I would like to thank Waverleyglen Company and Access Solutions for inviting me to discuss these very important issues .


Thank You