Sentara changes code announcements to keep people informed, safe

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Sentara is finally speaking our language when it comes to intercom announcements.

The nationwide movement is supported by Homeland Security, because it will give everyone inside more power to protect and help each other.

If you’ve ever watched a hospital drama  you know what a code blue is… But would you know what was happening if they called out a code yellow? Most of wouldn’t have a clue about the 16 different color codes.

Sentara’s System Director of Emergency Preparedness Brian Boland told WAVY.com they even stump the staff sometimes.

“You hear a code and you take your badge and flip it over and say, ‘What is that code and what does it mean?”

It can take a minute to figure out that code yellow, Boland explained.

“What it was describing that there was an event going on a hazardous substance with potential exposure to people around it,” Boland said.

That’s something people walking the hallways might want to know — and now they will.

“Our society has evolved to the point that they’re demanding that we communicate very clearly with them,” said Boland.

So, it’s a new day in the Sentara Communication Center. The operators who control code announcements are now using plain language to announce a simple straight forward message and any instructions on how to react.

Those instructions and information would be especially important in the case of a code maroon.

“Now we communicate active shooter is in this location, we want you, if you’re in this location, to shut your doors and stay out of the way.”

That’s a good reason for patients and visitors like Aubree Midgett to listen up.

“That would be nice to know, so you can get yourself someplace that you need to be definitely,” she said.

The only codes that will remain are two that almost everyone knows: Code blue for cardiac arrest and code red for fire.