Post-Dispatch, October 13, 2011

Hospitals are naturally noisy places—alarms, machines, carts and elevators going at all hours. High noise levels have been shown to hinder patients' sleep, raise stress levels and even contribute to medical errors. Memorial Hospital in Belleville recently launched the SHHH campaign, a program used by hospitals nationwide to reduce extraneous noise. The hospital's maintenance staff replaced squeaky wheels, installed noise-absorbing ceiling tiles and flattened the thresholds at the entrances to patient rooms. Patients are given headphones for their televisions. Staff members cut back on overhead paging announcements from an average of 100 pages to just three over a 24-hour period by sending texts to doctors instead. White background noise is piped through speakers to drown out more irritating sounds. "We really want it to be a calm, quiet and healing environment," said Mimi Leuchtefeld, a registered nurse and patient care coordinator at Memorial. "The main idea is to increase awareness of how noise levels can affect patient healing and progress."

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