Oregon State Hospital: An Inside Look at Upgrading RTLS Tech for Behavioral Health

By Josh Childs

Oregon State Hospital is a multicampus, state-run psychiatric hospital system that serves people who are coping with behavioral health challenges of all types. Patients, many of whom were committed by the courts after a conviction or unable to stand trial due to mental illness, stay in the system for varying durations of time with the ultimate goal of behavioral rehabilitation before being reintegrated into society or transferred to a different facility. The result is a collection of people from all backgrounds and at all points of the healing process. 

We recently worked with their Salem, Oregon campus—the hospital’s main branch—on an upgrade to Actall’s ATLAS real-time locating system to bolster staff safety and efficiency, and contribute to positive outcomes for their many long-term residents. Here’s what the upgrade installation from Actall’s PALS 9000 to ATLAS entailed, and how facility staff and patients started benefiting right away. 

RTLS Upgrades for Safety, Flexibility and Peace of Mind

Oregon State Hospital had been a PALS 9000 client since 2012 and was excited about upgrading to our ATLAS system. While the PALS 9000 system suited their needs for a long period of time, advancements in technology and shifting staff needs made the ATLAS system all the more appealing. 

For example, the ATLAS system features smaller-size tags with easy-to-find duress buttons, making safety and security readily accessible for nursing staff in a more compact form. 

The patient population at this particular facility can experience unpredictable mental health challenges, which can lead to outbursts or violent encounters with each other or with staff. While nursing staff members are trained in physical de-escalation, they also rely on security to come to their aid when they call for backup. Smaller tags, plus Actall’s commitment to three seconds or less for alarm elucidation, put that help well within reach right when it’s needed. 

Zonal Accuracy and Granularity Are Game-Changers

When a staff member needs help, the response team knows exactly where to go because of ATLAS’s industry-leading capabilities in granularity and accuracy. Some areas of the hospital facility require only high-level, zonal views, while others require accuracy down to the room. 

Hospitals and behavioral health centers are dynamic facilities. As operational needs shift, certain treatment services may be relocated, groups of patients moved to different floors, or as the structure is physically changed through renovation and new construction, it’s important to adjust granularity to match. 

Open areas like cafeterias or recreation yards may not need highly detailed accuracy, but room-level accuracy for areas of the hospital where people in acute distress are being treated may be quite important. The ATLAS system easily allows for this flexibility.

The need for functional, efficient behavioral health facilities is on a sharp rise in the United States. One in four Americans is said to struggle with a mental illness or substance-use disorder. And with values shifting away from pure incarceration for criminal convictions and toward a model of rehabilitation, the demand for facilities like Oregon State Hospital will only increase. Ensuring staff safety and contributing to patient rehabilitation is key, and we’re proud to play a role in that.