Technology Makes eICU Concept a Reality

The Bates County Memorial Hospital Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is now equipped with the sophisticated technology needed to provide patients with more advanced monitoring and care than ever before.

Called the electronic ICU, or eICU, this program is a partnership with Saint Luke’s Hospital that utilizes advanced telemedicine technology, along with a trained physician and experienced critical care nurses who monitor the hospital’s ICU patients 24/7.

“We still provide our patients with the same care and monitoring we always have at BCMH,” explains Jennifer Klinksick, R.N., Med-Surg/Critical Care Unit Manager. “But the eICU is basically an extra set of eyes for the patient and for us. It’s like having two medical teams watching over you—one here and one at the Saint Luke’s eICU Center. It ensures the patient receives the highest level of care we can provide,” she says.

How does the eICU work for patients at the hospital?

“The patients in our four-bed unit still have their same medical team here at the hospital, including our nursing staff, the hospitalists and their primary care provider,” Jennifer says. Vital signs, medications, blood test results, X-rays, and other information from bedside monitors are sent to the Saint Luke’s eICU Center using private, secure, high-speed data lines. This information is displayed on computers for analysis by the eICU team. Patients also can be examined using special cameras when necessary, and the eICU Center team can talk directly with hospital doctors and nurses.

“The eICU team watches for trends in the patient’s lab results, and vital signs, for example,” Jennifer explains. “If they identify a possible issue, they communicate with our staff and the patient’s physician about the situation, and develop a plan of care.” Your doctor makes all final decisions regarding care, along with the family and patient.

Often, this early intervention can help prevent a more serious complication, making it possible for the hospital to care for more critically ill patients, rather than transferring them to an out-of-town facility. “The eICU helps patients stay closer to home, and closer to family and friends during a stressful hospitalization,” Jennifer adds.

There is no charge to intensive care patients for the eICU service, and those who do not wish to take advantage of the technology may opt out of it.