As reported by The Hartford Courant, August 3, 2004.

$8,000 Hospital Beds Bring Relief, Safety

By Sefira Fialkoff

In an effort to improve patients' safety and speed their recovery, the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington is investing in 80 high-tech hospital beds.

Introduced by Hillenbrand Industries this spring, VersaCare beds are designed with sensors that detect when more than 40 percent of a patient's body weight is shifting and set off an alarm to alert nurses if a patient is getting out of bed without assistance. The beds also can be lowered to just 18 inches above the floor, making it easier for patients to get in and out of bed without falling.

"These new beds employ new technology to dramatically enhance the hospital's fall-prevention program and reduce the risk of back injury for our clinical staff," said Nicholas Noyes, the health center's director of clinical engineering.

Two of the $8,000 beds already have arrived and are in use on the health center's fourth floor for surgical-recovery patients, and the rest will arrive in the next four to six weeks, Noyes said.

Varying zones of air pressure in the beds help minimize bedsores, and extensions can add up to 11 inches to the beds to accommodate taller patients.

Noyes said the beds are also designed to save nurses time and reduce caregivers' risk of injury. The beds can be deflated on each side, to make patient exams and linen changes easier. Nurses also can weigh patients in bed, using a built-in scale. And the beds, which are replacing 15-year-old basic hospital beds, also can be converted into chairs, to help patients get up.

"These beds are terrific," said nursing manager Shannon Rankin. "People just can't say enough good things about them. Patients, nurses and doctors, even visitors love these beds."