LRH Offering State-of-the-Art Technology for Critical Care Patients
Lakes Regional Healthcare (LRH) now offers state-of-the-art technology that allows critical care patients an extra level of care and to stay within the community to receive needed care rather than going out of the area. The technology is Avera’s eICU where patients in LRH’s critical care unit are monitored via telemedicine capabilities by specially trained physicians, or intensivists, who specialize in caring for critically ill patients and critical care nurses at Avera McKennan in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
The monitoring is fairly inconspicuous. Various monitors are applied to the patient, and these monitors connect to a computer. The computer system is connected via secure, high-speed data lines to the eICU operations center in Sioux Falls. The operations center resembles an air traffic control room, where healthcare professionals constantly monitor the patient’s condition, such as vital signs (heart rate, blood pressure, respiration), x-rays, and test results on several computer screens. Professionals in Sioux Falls also visually see the patient with powerful, real-time cameras. Computers continuously analyze the information, helping the intensivists recognize changes in patient conditions, which allows for early intervention through coordination with local physicians and nurses before significant problems arise. Besides being monitored and cared for by the patient’s physician and LRH staff in Spirit Lake, the eICU means the patient’s physician can get an immediate second opinion about how to treat the patient.
The innovative technology directly and positively affects patients. In a three-month study, Avera eICU facilities contributed to a 30 percent decrease in predicted hospital mortality for ICU patients and reduced predicted ICU length of stay time by 23 percent.
According to Vice President of Nursing Joni Mitchell, “We’re really excited about this capability to better care for our patients. We started offering this service on September 1, and have already had a patient that’s benefited from it. It’s not only nice for the patient to stay in their home community, it’s also nice for the patient’s family because it can help alleviate the financial, physical, and emotional burden they may experience otherwise. With the eICU capability, they can easily visit the patient without disrupting the other day-to-day responsibilities they may have here, such as going to work or caring for others at home, and avoid the travel and hotel costs associated with visiting the patient in another community.”
Those interested in more information about LRH’s eICU are encouraged to talk to their local family physician.