Sentara Healthcare launches text alert system

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Sentara Healthcare is using technology in an effort to keep everyone in its hospitals safe.  It recently launched a new text message alert system for all of its facilities. 

It’s called SentarAlert and it’s an opt-in text message alert system.  Sentara employees already have an alert system, but anyone else in the hospital had to relay on the PA system.  Text alerts now going to anyone who signs up is a way to keep more people safe, just in case.  These alerts will be sent out in case of an active shooter or evacuation order.

In the heart of Sentara’s communications center, calls and alerts come in and out — alerts for doctors and potentially for patients.

“It is a first word that something is going on in the facility that you need to be aware of,” said Sentara Healthcare Senior Communications Advisor Dale Gauding.  “We want to make sure that our patients and visitors and vendors and other people who aren’t employees can make good decisions based on information they get.”

That’s the goal behind the new SentarAlert program.  Gauding says the text alert program is a federal requirement.  It launched a few weeks ago and officials are hopeful it will help.

“There are literally thousands of people who walk in and out of the doors every day,” Gauding said.  “So having information available to them timely when something bad is happening, helps keep them safe so they can make good decisions.”

Gauding says the hospital system recently stopped using “color codes” as their alert system, so that everyone has a clear understanding of what’s going on.  He said the texts and PA alert system will tell people, “where the incident is, what is the best way to avoid it, and what you should do to keep yourself safe.”

It’s a simple sign up process for a program Gauding hopes they never have to use. 

“Hopefully we’ll never have to deploy any of these messages, that’s the whole idea,” he said.  But if something does happen, a plan will be in place. 

Right now, the alerts are only for active shooter scenarios or an evacuation order.  Gauding says the alerts may expand in the future. 

Marielena Balouris reports.

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To opt-in, text 333-111 to the code that corresponds with the hospital you would like to receive alerts for.  The subscription is seven days long. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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