MADIGAN ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. -- A new surgery patient tracking board is giving families and friends at Madigan Army Medical Center greater levels of understanding and comfort as they wait for their loved ones in surgery.

The display in the visitors' waiting room lets friends and family see the real-time status of patients, who are only identified by their case numbers.

"It seems to calm them because they know there's no guessing as to where they are in the process," said Maj. Kelly Shamlian, the officer in charge of Madigan's Post-Anesthesia Care Unit.

Up until late January, those waiting for surgery patients would either get status updates from a part-time volunteer, or from occasional phone calls from nurses at the front desk.

However, the operating room and PACU staff learned that MHS GENESIS can feed directly into such a tracking board.

"This is a real bright spot; this is a built-in capability … (it) helps patients' families increase their peace of mind, and it's patient-centric," said Col. Andrew Foster, chief of the Department of Anesthesia and Operative Services.

While the board gives status updates such as ready for surgery/procedure, surgery/procedure start, patient in recover, and ready for discharge, Sgt. Joseph Bell, the noncommissioned OIC of PACU, took the explanations a step further be developing an accompanying poster which further details each status.

"It also gives instructions like the surgery started, feel free to use the restroom, feel free to get a snack, but stay in the area," said Bell. The poster explains as well that the best time to pick up medications for family members being discharged that same day is when the surgeries or procedures begin.

"We made sure that we had the right terms on there, so when a procedure stops they understand that the surgery might be finished but (the care team is) still back there with their loved one because they're waking up," said Shamlian.

Getting the tracking board up and running took a collaborative effort with Dr. Todd Jensen (an MHS GENESIS solution owner), Bell, PACU, the OR, the Facility Management Division and the Information Management Division, according to Foster.

The team plans to continue to improve the tracker to make the waiting experience better still.

"The hope for moving forward is now we can add things like now you can go get your meds, or your family member is in Bay 15 in PACU; please make your way there," said Kelly. "The hope is that as we figure out all of the new wonderments that come with this program, we can be able to put it into action and have even more information as we move forward."