Nanaimo hospital installing life-saving washroom sensors

The Nanaimo Regional General Hospital is gearing up to introduce washroom sensor devices that health officials say can be life-saving in the event of a toxic drug poisoning.

Island Health says the motion detection sensors will be installed across washrooms identified as “high risk”, and not only do they monitor movement, they can also track heartbeats and rate of breathing.

Dr. Charmaine Enns says designated responders will only be alerted if there’s been no movement detected for over 60 seconds or if someone has been in the washroom for longer than 10 minutes.

“Obviously, we’re very much interested in protecting people’s confidentiality. There’s going to be no bursting through the door. There’s signage on the door, people know that there’s a Brave sensor in there,” she explained.

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Initially installed in washrooms further up the Island in Courtenay, B.C., in October, the sensors are already being credited with saving at least one life.

“There’s a protocol staff go through where they knock on the door, but there’s a series of interventions on the door to get somebody’s attention before anyone tries to unlock the door,” she told CityNews.

While the sensors are being introduced to lower the risk of death from drug poisoning, the technology can help with a range of other incidents.

“The sensor is very exquisite. It’s not just about physical movement, it detects even movement as slight as your heartbeat and your breathing. It detects no movement, which means no heartbeat, and no breathing. So, this is a valuable resource for any medical condition where somebody may collapse.”

The Nanaimo trial will run for a minimum of three months with the technology provided by Vancouver-based Brave Technology Co-op.

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