Lifeline program now uses cellular data | CraigDailyPress.com

Lifeline program now uses cellular data

Michael Neary

— A service that allows people to call for help during an emergency has moved into the world of cellular data.

The Northwest Colorado Lifeline at The Memorial Hospital has bolstered its service, adding devices that use cellular technology. The Lifeline is a subscription-based service that allows people to call for help when they're in trouble — through a fall or other unexpected event.

"Before the newest units, we had to have a landline in order to have a Lifeline," said Stayton Mosbey, Lifeline program coordinator for The Memorial Hospital in Craig.

Before the updates, which Mosbey said occurred last year, a subscriber to the service would plug a machine into a landline and then wear a small device with a button around his or her neck or wrist. The small device communicated with the larger machine — so long as the two were within about 300 feet of each other — and the person could press the button to call for help.

Now, subscribers have cellular options. They can purchase a basic service that uses a machine to connect to AT&T's cellular data, with a small device that communicates with that machine. As with the older equipment, this arrangement still requires a subscriber to stay within 300 feet of the larger machine.

Subscribers can also purchase a GoSafe wireless device that works on its own, without needing to communicate with a larger machine. That allows subscribers to use the system away from home.

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The program uses equipment from Philips Lifeline.

Mosbey said the price for the landline subscription is $39.95 per month — and customers need their own landline connections. The basic wireless Lifeline service is $46.95 per month, and a subscription with the GoSafe wireless device — that allows for greater mobility — starts at a cost of $54.95 per month. These devices require access to AT&T cellular data.

Financial assistance is available, Mosbey said. He noted that Medicaid funds subscription costs — though Medicare does not — and he said the United Way of Moffat County provides assistance, as well.

Mosbey said he's observed a number of situations in which people have used the devices.

"A lot of people call and they push their help button if they're not feeling well," he said. "We've had several of those. We had several power outages last summer, and people were using their Lifelines to call because they didn't have oxygen."

Mosbey added that most of the calls are precipitated by a fall. He also noted factors that he said made the device more effective in emergencies than cell phones.

"We encourage people to always wear their Lifeline button so it's with them 24/7," he said. "So if you get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, it's on your neck."

He also said the devices have an "auto alert" feature that automatically makes a call when someone takes a fall.

Mosbey said people who use the device include younger people who may also have mobility obstacles.

The Northwest Colorado Lifeline has been in operation at the hospital for at least a decade, said Jennifer Riley, chief of marketing and business development at the hospital. Mosbey said there are 104 current subscribers, down from 138 in 2009.

Riley said part of the reason for the decline might involve people's shifting away from landlines and not having a cellular option for the device until recently.

People interested in the Northwest Colorado Lifeline can reach Mosbey at 970-826-3290 or stayton.mosbey@tmhcraig.org. They can also go to http://www.thememorialhospital.com/services/lifeline.