eICU service enhances care for critically ill at Avera St. Luke’s
A new way of using advanced, innovative technology will benefit critically ill patients in the Intensive Care Unit at Avera St. Luke’s, providing an extra layer of around-the-clock support that monitors a patient’s vital signs.
Since late 2004, Avera eICU Care has been available for physicians and patients in Aberdeen. “Avera Health has expanded its critical care expertise to include an electronic connection between an intensivist-led team located in Sioux Falls that works together with the on-site ICU physicians and staff in Aberdeen,” said Dr. John Fritz, vice president of outreach and referral for Avera St. Luke’s.
The Avera eICU Care center is staffed each day with ICU specialist physicians, called intensivists, as well as nurses and others, to support healthcare professionals at the bedside. Technology linked to Avera St. Luke’s ICU by a private communications network helps these caregivers work together to monitor the patient and carefully track vital signs and other information, such as medicines, blood test results, X-rays and more.
Numerous studies have demonstrated that when an attending physician teams up with an intensivist, ICU patients experience faster recoveries, leading to double-digit patient outcome improvements. “Unfortunately, there is a severe shortage of intensivists,” Dr. Fritz said. With the aging population and its anticipated impact on ICUs, even greater shortages are expected in the future. “This is an innovative way to share their expertise across the miles,” he explained.
Bedside care features human touch
“Bedside care remains the same,” said Monica Eske, RN, clinical coordinator of ICU/CCU at Avera St. Luke’s. The attending physician and ICU staff still manage the patient’s care and maintain the important, face-to-face contact that is so essential to healing. Patients can be examined through the use of special video cameras, and the eICU team can talk directly with Avera St. Luke's doctors and nurses. “The human touch paired with this extra layer of vigilant technology allows us to provide the best care possible,” Eske said.
Avera eICU Care is a quantum leap in ICU telemedicine. “Patient mortality rates have dropped 27 percent around the country where eICU remote monitoring systems are in place. Nothing has impacted the delivery of medicine to the same degree since the advent of antibiotics,” said David Erickson, MD, senior vice president of medical affairs for Avera Health. The eICU solution, a product of Visicu, is the first to be offered in the Dakotas.
In addition to enhanced patient care, studies have shown that this extra level of care results in an average 17 percent reduction in a patient’s ICU length of stay. And most importantly, the extra level of coverage from Avera eICU technology gives physicians more time and freedom to care for their patients in the way they determine is best.
The Avera eICU Care center does not house patients or replace the hospital ICU. It operates something like an air traffic control center, staffed with critical care experts networked to multiple ICU patients at several Avera hospitals through voice, video and data transmission. Avera eICU Care gives patients and their families confidence that they have both the personal attention and up-to-the-second, state-of-the-art monitoring they need.
eICU Care continues in Avera St. Luke’s addition on the southeast side of the Aberdeen hospital, which includes a new ICU on the third floor. The new ICU opened in late January 2006. Avera eICU Care has also been integrated into care at Avera McKennan in Sioux Falls, Avera Queen of Peace Hospital in Mitchell and Avera Sacred Heart Hospital in Yankton. To learn more, watch the Avera eICU Care video>>
Avera St. Luke’s Intensive Care Unit, 605-622-5557.