A Medical Device Daily

Patient Safety Technologies (PST; Los Angeles) reported that Covenant Health (Lubbock, Texas), a hospital in the St. Joseph Network, signed a three-year contract to use SurgiCount Medical ’s (Temecula, California) computer assisted counting system throughout two facilities.

According to PST, SurgiCount’s Safety-Sponge System is evaluated by about 10 medical institutions. The potential impact to the company’s annual gross revenues, from sales of the Safety-Sponge to these medical institutions, ranges from roughly $100,000 to $750,000 for each medical institution. The company said it anticipates that Covenant’s decision to fully implement the Safety-Sponge System in all 23 operating rooms at its main facility, as well as the 7 operating rooms at Covenant Medical Center-Lakeside, will generate about $250,000 in recurring annual revenues.

“Covenant’s decision to implement the Safety-Sponge System speaks volumes as to the readiness of the market for our computer assisted counting technology. We are thrilled to have Covenant as a customer and look forward to eventually working with the entire St. Joseph Network,” said Rick Bertran, president of SurgiCount Medical.

“By using this technology in our system it allows us to deliver to our patients the care and safety required as they undergo surgery,” said Jon Furbee, MD, VP of Perioperative Services. “Covenant Health is the first in the St. Joseph’s Health System as well as in Lubbock, Texas to acquire the state of the art technology. The ease of use gives our staff the tools to continue to provide outstanding care for all of our surgical patients.”

Covenant Health System is a member of St. Joseph Health System, one of the most successful not-for-profit health systems in the U.S., according to the hospital. It was founded in 1998 through the merger of two of Lubbock’s heathcare facilities, St. Mary of the Plains Hospital and Lubbock Methodist Hospital System .

Covenant Health System is the largest health care institution in the region with 1,394 licensed beds, more than 5,000 employees and a medical staff of more than 600 physicians at its cornerstone facilities.

The SurgiCount Safety-Sponge System is an array of modified surgical sponges, line-of-sight scanning SurgiCounters, and PrintPAD printers integrated together to form a comprehensive counting and documentation system, the company said. The system works much like a grocery store checkout process: Every surgical sponge and towel is affixed with a unique inseparable two-dimensional data matrix bar code and used with a SurgiCounter to scan and record the sponges during the initial and final counts. Because each sponge is identified with a unique code, a SurgiCounter will not allow the same sponge to be accidentally counted more than one time. When counts have been completed at the end of a procedure, the system will produce a printed report, or can be modified to work with a hospital’s paperless system. The Safety-Sponge System is the only FDA 510k approved computer assisted sponge counting system.

In other contract news, Innovatix (New York) reported that it has awarded a contract to Achieve Healthcare Technologies (Eden Prairie, Minnesota), a technology products and services company.

The contract provides access to Achieve Healthcare’s Matrix eScribing software designed to automate the prescription drug process. The contract offers discount pricing and is effective through June 30, 2010.

Achieve Matrix eScribing helps ensure accurate documentation and communication across the continuum of care, according to the company. Benefits of the offering include reduced callbacks to prescribers, improved accuracy and timeliness of the prescribing process, improved patient safety, reduced time spent on order management, and reduced payer reimbursement cycle time.

In grant news: HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt reported a total of $430 million in awards to states, territories and four major metropolitan areas to strengthen the ability of hospitals and other healthcare facilities to respond to bioterror attacks, infectious diseases, and natural disasters that may cause mass casualties.

“These grants are an important addition to national security because our hospitals and other healthcare facilities play such a critical role in responding to a terrorist attack, an infectious disease outbreak, and natural disasters,” Leavitt said. “States and communities can use these funds to improve emergency care during a health crisis.”

Health departments in the states, territories and metro areas of New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles County and Washington receiving the federal dollars will use them to improve the readiness of hospitals and other healthcare facilities in their jurisdictions. The goal is to strengthen medical surge capability across the nation. Recipients will use the money to develop or improve: interoperable communications, systems to track available hospital beds, advance registration of volunteer health professionals, and planning for both fatality management and hospital evacuations.

Congress transferred oversight of the grant program from the Health Resources and Services Administration to the new HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response with passage of the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Act of 2006.

Also new for this year is the $15 million Healthcare Facilities Partnership Program. Congress asked HHS to award competitive grants or cooperative agreements to eligible healthcare partnerships to enhance community and hospital preparedness for public health emergencies. The $15 million will be awarded through a competitive process resulting in 6-30 cooperative agreement awards for regional partnerships that may range from $500,000 - $2.5 million.