CLANG! Patients at Inova Alexandria Hospital Used Cowbells When the Call System Was Being Upgraded

Hospital staff unpacked and handed out 180 white cowbells to patients on Nov. 7! The cowbell call system was in operation for about four hours.  

One of the cowbells used by patients at Inova Alexandria Hospital on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019. (Photo: Courtesy)

Alexandria, VA – Clang! It got a little noisy at Inova Alexandria Hospital on Thursday, Nov. 7, as hospital staff had to get creative in the in-patient unit by giving patients cowbells during an upgrade to the call bell system. Extra hospital staff were deployed to help patients during the four hour shutdown before the system was back online. There were no reported issues with patients and the temporary cowbell call system. 

“It’s kind of fun. Now people are saying that they want cowbells in their offices,” Dr. Rina Bansal, president of Inova Alexandria Hospital, told The Zebra. “It was definitely something different, but our staff are used to a number of different alarms, like telemetry and a bed alarm, so outside of call bells there are so many different things to listen for.” 

Hospital staff unpacked and handed out 180 white cowbells to patients. Dorothy Bradley Breeding was with her husband, James, who was admitted to the hospital for a week.  

“I think it’s funny and interesting,” Breeding said over the phone, and laughed as she rang the cowbell. “I think the more staff hear these bells the less they like them.” 

Bansal said that as far as she knows the cowbells were used one other time – during a similar upgrade to the system last year. 

“Our first priority was to make sure people are safe,” Bansal said. “I think the staff had fun with the concept. It was entertaining while ensuring patient safety.”  



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