Nov 29, 2020 Safety First and Always at Clara Maass Medical Center

Every precaution has been taken to make Clara Maass Medical Center a safe place for patients.

"At Clara Maass, we’ve always been focused on safety, and we are committed to being a high-reliability organization,” says Naveen Ballem, MD, Interim Chief Medical Officer and Chief Clinical Effectiveness Officer at Clara Maass Medical Center (CMMC). “The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced for us how important it is to be nimble, to communicate, and to be able to adjust processes as needed for new diseases.”

CMMC has received national recognition for its commitment to safety, as shown by its Healthgrades Patient Safety Excellence Award for 2019 and 2020, as well as 12 “A” Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades. Those efforts have only become more vigorous.

“Recently, we increased our infection control team from two specially trained nurses to four,” says Dr. Ballem. “They round every morning and are our boots on the ground, ensuring that every unit and area is adhering to best practices for preventing outbreaks of infection.”


The Medical Center’s Environmental Services team makes sure all areas are disinfected with the best cleaning products available and also uses state-of-the-art robots that clean with UV-C light and high-energy photons.

Airflow has been carefully adjusted so that infectious particles don’t disseminate outside the patient room.

“We’ve converted systems to negative air pressure so that all particles get absorbed into special filters,” Dr. Ballem explains.

Communication Counts

As part of its ongoing drive to be a high-reliability organization, CMMC prioritizes clear communication among medical staff and employees. Each day, often at the beginning of every new shift, every unit or department has a huddle that includes senior managers.

“This is a time when anyone on the staff can speak about what will be happening that day and about any concerns they have. Everyone, at every level of the hierarchy, is empowered to communicate,” explains Dr. Ballem.

In addition, medication errors are now avoided by the use of the medical center’s Electronic Medical Records (EMR) program, which includes a digital version of prescribed medications that is available to every health care professional who interacts with the patient. The doses and types of medication can be double-checked with a scan of a barcode on a patient’s wristband.

In fact, safety measures are a major focus in every aspect of the medical center’s operation, as the photos on these pages show.

“Patients should know,” says Dr. Ballem, “that Clara Maass Medical Center has gone above and beyond the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to make the hospital as safe as possible.”

Naveen Ballem, MD
Naveen Ballem, MD

What Every Patient Should Know

The best health care happens when patients as well as their doctors are actively involved, says Dr. Ballem.

“In the past few months, we’ve seen that some people are putting off going to the doctor or the Emergency Department because of fear of COVID-19,” Dr. Ballem explains.

“People should not be putting off the health care they need, for two reasons: One, all RWJBarnabas Health facilities have taken every precaution to deliver health care in a safe and effective manner. And two, if you don’t see your doctor and keep up with your medications, you may end up with a bad health outcome that could have been avoided.”

In addition to seeking out preventive care and treatment, Dr. Ballem also recommends these proactive steps:

  • Get the flu vaccine shot.
  • Wear a mask when outside of your household. Make sure it covers both your nose and mouth.
  • Keep six feet away from people outside of your household.
  • Wash your hands regularly, scrubbing with soap for 20 seconds each time. If soap is unavailable, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.


  1. Temperature Checks: Employees are screened as they report for work to be sure that their temperature is within the normal range.
  2. Wear a Mask, Save Lives: All CMMC employees wear face masks while at work.
  3. Signs of Safety: Visitors are guided to safe social distancing through the use of stickers.
  4. Signs of Safety: Visitors are guided to safe social distancing through the use of signs.
  5. Head-to-Toe Protection: Staff members use personal protective equipment for interactions with patients.
  6. Uncompromisingly Clean: Spread of infection is prevented by rigorous cleaning of all rooms, including all surfaces, equipment and air vents.
  7. Washing Hands: All CMMC employees wash their hands thoroughly and frequently, following the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  8. Robot Cleaner: Advanced robotic technology uses pulsed UV-C light and high-energy photons to disinfect surfaces.
  9. Mandatory Masks: Face masks are distributed to any patients or visitors who don’t have them.

To find a doctor, visit the Clara Maass Medical Center or call (888) 724-7123.