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Rome Memorial Hospital physical therapist wins state award

By Journal Staff


ROME, N.Y. — Ashley Niebuhr, co-chair of Rome Memorial Hospital’s Safe Patient Handling Committee, has received the Safe Patient Handling Award of Excellence from the New York State Zero Lift Task Force for her leadership in improving the safety of the hospital environment for both patients and staff.

The New York State Zero Lift Task Force is made up of health-care workers, administrators, patient advocates, union representatives, and safety and health professionals who want to ensure the health and safety of all patients and health-care workers in New York state, according to a Rome Memorial Hospital news release. The award recognizes the contributions of individuals who have “distinguished themselves through their hard work and dedication” to improve the health and safety of workers by advocating for safe patient handling programs. 

Niebuhr was nominated for the award by Manon Gouse, assistant VP of therapeutic services and patient safety officer at Rome Memorial Hospital; Chris Craigmile, safe patient handling specialist with Craigmile Health Solutions LLC; and David Lyman, risk manager for Gilroy, Kernan & Gilroy Insurance, Inc. in New Hartford.

“Due to Ashley’s efforts and those of the Safe Patient Handling Committee, Senior Leadership and the entire staff at Rome Memorial Hospital, the hospital has far exceeded any other acute or long term care facility that I work with to reduce staff injuries due to patient handling tasks,” Craigmile said in the release. “They have nearly eliminated musculoskeletal injuries to front line staff due to the movement of patients.”

Rates of musculoskeletal injuries from overexertion in health-care occupations are among the highest of all U.S. industries. The single greatest risk factor for overexertion injuries in health-care workers involves the manual lifting, moving, and repositioning of patients or residents, which can result in career-ending injuries, according to the release.

Rome Memorial Hospital’s “Safe Patient Handling Program,” including staff education and investments in equipment, has resulted in a significant decline in incidents, the hospital said. Since 2014, Rome Memorial Hospital’s rates of work-related musculoskeletal disorders equal 2 per 100 employees, “well below” national rates of 8.8 in hospital settings and 13.5 in nursing-home settings. These efforts have also saved the hospital nearly $634,000 annually in workers’ compensation and indirect costs, according to Gouse.

Niebuhr earned a bachelor’s degree in health and human studies and a doctor of physical therapy from Utica College. She is certified by the Association of Safe Patient Handling Professionals.

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