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New tele-ICU monitoring service deployed at Wilmington VA

Modernization and innovation are top priorities for VA health care.  A new, state of the art program, integrating tele-communications technology with intensive care physicians who are on duty around the clock in a remote location hundreds of miles away was kicked off at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Wilmington, Delaware.  The new program is designed to enhance health care services for Veterans Affairs patients.

A  ribbon cutting ceremony highlighted the new two-way real time video links between each of the six ICU rooms and two emergency department rooms at the Wilmington VAMC and ICU specialists at the Cincinnati VA Medical Center.  The link provides another layer of care for patients by connecting them via real-time video links to specialists in Cincinnati who are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  The tele-ICU team has a supportive role; they have an overview of all the patients in the unit and can alert the bedside staff if any problems occur.

As part of the program, bedside data from patients at the Wilmington VA is made available to nurses and doctors in the Cincinnati monitoring center.  Vince Kane, director of the Wilmington VAMC said the technology is especially important in enhancing medical care provided to veterans served by the Wilmington VA.

“We are very excited for the opportunity for us to apply  best practices focused on making sure we meet the needs of our veterans,” said Kane.  “By having access to the team in Cincinnati, our providers and nurses have additional eyes and expertise to help enhance Veteran care.”

The tele-ICU partnership connects Wilmington staff and patients with the Cincinnati’s monitoring center, which is an advanced tele-health facility where remote intensive care physicians and nurses support the care of ICU patients by using virtual technologies and clinical information systems.  Critical care nurses staff the Tele-ICU Monitoring Center 24/7 with critical care physicians available overnight and weekends.  The remote providers have access to bedside clinical data, can assess a veteran through video conferencing technology, and can provide consultative recommendations or directly intervene in patient care as desired by the local ICU staff.

Dr. Callahan, intensivist at the Wilmington VAMC ICU, said the program will provide additional layers of professionals providing more care locally.  The services allow for continuous monitoring of patients receiving ICU care, even when local providers are out of the room assisting with other critical patients.

Kelley Bowens, ER ICU nurse manager at Wilmington VA said the new program will provide remote vital checks on local patients, allow distance providers to virtually make rounds in the patients’ rooms and monitor changes that might be going on with veterans’ vital signs.

If there is an issue with a patient, local ICU staff will be alerted allowing for a fast response to the patient’s changing medical condition.  The new service enhances the face-to-face care which is already being provided to patients.

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