A new high-tech piece of equipment at SunPorch of Dodge City is providing increased safety and a more comfortable experience for elders and staff members.

SunPorch became eligible to receive the Raizer lift chair because of its active participation in the Southwest Healthcare Emergency Resource Team and Healthcare Coalition.

The SHERT HCC is a coalition of healthcare and emergency-response personnel who focus on All-Hazards Emergency Preparedness.

The long-term-care residence at 501 W. Beeson Road, is training nurses and other staff on the Raizer’s proper use.

"The lift chair is sturdy and extremely easy to assemble and operate," said Michala Abney, licensed practical nurse and human resources director. "The Raizer can be used even in small spaces."

Previously, Abney explained, nurses had to reposition an elder who had fallen.

"We used a larger floor-based mechanical lift. This required a sling in which the elder had to roll back and forth to get situated.

"The Raizer allows for a more comfortable situation for everyone involved."

Even though the manufacturer indicates one person can handle a transfer, SunPorch policy is to "always use at least two members of the nursing staff," Abney said. "This reinforces our commitment to safety during lifting and transferring when using any type of mechanical device."

The Raizer is actually "built" around the person who is laying on the floor, Abney said. The motor is placed under both bent knees and back supports are inserted into the motor, as well as the legs of the chair. This assembly takes about two minutes.

"We do all we can to prevent someone from falling," Abney emphasized. "But we want to be prepared to act quickly and safely when it does happen. This new state-of-the-art lift chair reduces the risk of injury to elders and staff members who have been known to suffer back strain while lifting with more traditional methods."

The Raizer will handle up to 300 pounds and is equipped with a rechargeable extended-life battery.

The SHERT HCC transferred the Raizer to SunPorch, which is currently the only stand-alone long-term-care residence that is an active member of the Coalition. The retail value is $3,616.75; other healthcare entities may use it if necessary. The device would be helpful in a mass-casualty event to help lift fallen people to safety.

"We started attending SHERT meetings and quickly became aware of its tremendous value," said Debbie Allen, marketing and community liaison. "SunPorch has received substantial assistance from the team on how to meet new requirements for long-term-care emergency plans.

"I cannot tell you how grateful we are," Allen added. "This device means more comfort and safety, and reduced apprehension during a transfer after a fall."

Darcy Golliher, SHERT secretary, said selecting SunPorch "wasn’t a difficult choice."

When SunPorch representatives started attending our meetings, their eagerness to learn and participate in discussions and on committees made them stand out.

"We demonstrated the Raizer and decided it needed to go to a long-term-care residence as opposed to another type of healthcare entity," Golliher added.

SHERT, which is funded by federal Hospital Preparedness Program grant funds, combines the efforts of all healthcare organizations in southwest Kansas to better prepare for an all-hazard emergency.

Members are hospitals, public health agencies, emergency medical services, emergency management organizations and all other healthcare providers.