House Calls runs every two weeks. Today's column is written by Jeff Gustafson, director of facilities at Sutter Coast Hospital.

Sutter Health has invested $800,000 in Sutter Coast Hospital's "Path-of-Travel" changes and upgrades to our hospital over the past year.

"Path-of-Travel" or POT is the term used to describe the route taken by those who are disabled to get from the accessible parking area to the services they need inside the hospital.

POT addresses the safety needs of people who are mobility compromised by providing level walkways. POT sidewalks and walkways cannot vary more than 2 percent from level on a cross slope.

Consider a person in a wheelchair trying to convey along a sidewalk. A cross slope of greater than 2 percent would be like someone pushing sideways on the wheelchair all the time. That extra pressure would require constant correction of the chair's direction, taking extra effort, which would be very tiring.

An accessible POT is designed to minimize the energy required to get to where patients and their family members need to go. POTs are also relatively level in the direction of travel.

Sutter Coast installed elevated crosswalks at every parking lot crossing. This eliminates the need for wheelchair-bound individuals to negotiate the ups and downs of a regular crosswalk and it makes the person crossing much more visible to drivers.

POT also allows persons with limited or no vision to navigate their way to and from the hospital with confidence. Transitional areas are marked with tactile (textures you can feel) warning strips whenever there is a change in the use of the path and there is no change in elevation.

For example, you will notice them where there is no curb and the walkway turns into a vehicle traffic zone. That is why some businesses have them all along the front of their establishments.

You also may notice that the signs along the POT are raised quite high. The reason is that a blind

person cannot see the obstruction in his or her way when it's off of the ground.

The next time you visit our facility, keep a sharp eye out for the following POT improvement: Updated parking spaces, updated walkways, additional lighting, and additional drop-off space that is level with the hospital entrance, elevated crosswalks and a new bridge across the drainage ditch from Washington Boulevard onto hospital property and new signage.

Sutter Coast Hospital and Sutter Health works hard every day to ensure everyone safe and equal access to our services.