Is Your Hospital Moving? Check Out These Effective Patient Transfer Techniques

Birmingham, Ala.’s Trinity Medical Center successfully and efficiently transferred all 97 of its patients to a new facility. Here are the best practices they adopted to make the complex move drama-free.

Alabama’s Trinity Medical Center completed the transfer of its entire patient population to its new location at Grandview Medical Center on Oct. 10.

The complex move was the culmination of more than a year of planning, promotion and coordination that involved more than 18 local and state agencies. The process required meeting myriad patient safety needs, medical standards and staffing levels at two hospitals in addition to effective interagency and public communication.

Despite the seemingly countless ways the multifaceted procedure could have gone wrong, the biggest mishap actually came after the move was completed, when an ambulance got a flat tire. So how were emergency management officials able to ensure such an intricate process went so smoothly? Campus Safety got an inside look at the stages involved.

County Decides on a Hospital Upgrade
In 2013, Alabama state regulators approved Trinity’s move to Grandview Medical Center. Both facilities are located in Birmingham, about a 20 minute drive apart. Grandview was recently built and holds more modern, digitally accessible features than Trinity, which was closed down immediately after the move was completed.

Jim Coker, who had just completed a 35-year career in law enforcement when he retired from the Hoover Police Department, began planning for the move in 2014.

Coker had been appointed the director of the Jefferson County Alabama Emergency Agency in September and needed to find a communications platform that everyone involved could use to coordinate real time patient transports.

It was around that time that Coker settled on Nixle, an Everbridge communications solution, as his choice to manage the emergency communications. The Nixle purchase was made after a financial partnership was agreed to with the city specifying that Coker’s agency would pay for part of the service and Birmingham would pay the rest.

The coordination started immediately. Coker’s agency’s job was to bring dozens of different departments up to speed on the plans. The different actors involved included the Birmingham Police Department, the Birmingham Fire Department, the Alabama Department of Transportation, Alabama State Troopers, both hospital staffs, volunteers and more.

“We worked to assist all of them in working with each other,” says Coker. “We all had a common goal to successfully and safely move these patients, so we had to figure out the best way to achieve that.”

About the Author


Zach Winn is a journalist living in the Boston area. He was previously a reporter for Wicked Local and graduated from Keene State College in 2014, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism and minoring in political science.

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