Virtual Nursing Improves ICU Care - KOAM TV 7

Virtual Nursing Improves ICU Care


In the Joplin Mercy hospital ICU; heart attack, stroke, and trauma victims are facing life threatening situations. But some of the nurses taking part in every day care are actually more than 240 miles away.

From Chesterfield, Missouri outside St. Louis, CNS Mary Burton helps nurses in Joplin monitor intensive care patients. It's Mercy's tele-care unit, SafeWatch.

"It's scary any time that you walk away from a patient. even to care for another patient," Mercy Joplin RN Lauren Wenberg said. "We're constantly watching our patient on a monitor looking for trends, changes. It helps to have a better patient outcome. Sometimes with a critically ill patient seconds really count."

Mercy Joplin adopted the program in 2012; now monitoring all of the hospital's 48 critical care beds. Offering resources, monitoring, and surveillance to help on-site nurses. 

"When I was working in the ICU I could only be in one room at a time," Burton said. "So just being able to see all these rooms at a time can be a help to the nurse cause she can only be at one place at one time."

Mercy says ICUs using SafeWatch have seen a 35 to 40 percent reduction in the length of patient's hospital stay and 30 to 40 percent fewer deaths, compared to national benchmarks.

"I think the biggest thing that tele-ICU does for us is that it gives us a second set of eyes," Mercy Joplin Director of ER Critical Care Tracey Spurgeon said. "They have algorithms that our vital signs and out labs filter in to. So they may pick up on something before we even see it."

"It's a real privilege to be able to work somewhere that has the second set of eyes," Wenberg said. "And gives you piece of mind to do your job to the best of your abilities."

Mercy Joplin has already expanded tele-care to other parts of the hospital for other patients. And say the technology is there to expand it as needed. The virtual care center in Chesterfield monitors up to 500 beds through the entire Mercy health system.

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