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Carolinas HealthCare System is launching an innovative technology center to provide an extra level of clinical expertise for critically ill or injured patients.
The Virtual Critical Care Command Center, which will be located in Mint Hill, opens May 7. It will be staffed with physician and nurse critical care specialists to monitor patients in critical care units across the Carolinas.
“Our Virtual Critical Care will provide real-time, 24/7 oversight for the most severely injured and ill patients,” said Dr. James McDeavitt, Chief Academic Officer for Carolinas HealthCare System. “This new department will not replace physicians and nurses at the bedside, but will provide an additional group of clinical experts to closely watch and review the vital functions of those patients.”
Two-way audio/video connectivity from the Virtual Critical Care Command Center, plus clinical monitoring of each patient’s vital signs, will help establish standards and coordinate critical care while providing an additional layer of safety for patients, Dr. McDeavitt said.
At least three nurses and one physician will staff the Virtual Critical Care Command Center at all times. Typically one physician can monitor about 120 patients, while each nurse monitors about 40 patients. Virtual Critical Care includes banks of clinical monitors and video screens in about 3,200 square feet.
The delivery of safe, high quality critical care services has become one of the greatest challenges facing hospitals today. In the United States, critical care beds account for about 10 percent of inpatient beds, but about 30 percent of total hospital costs and 40 percent of total hospital drug costs. Establishing consistent, reliable critical care processes that provide high quality, patient-focused care – while eliminating waste and duplication – has become a national healthcare imperative.
Virtual Critical Care also provides support to smaller hospitals’ critical care units, reducing the need to transfer some patients to another facility for critical care. This allows every critically ill or injured patient at any Carolinas HealthCare System facility to receive the best care possible while being close to home.
Carolinas HealthCare System’s new monitoring technology helps ensure best practices across Carolinas HealthCare System’s critical care spectrum by:
- Assuring adherence to evidence-based standards of care
- Allowing earlier recognition of subtle changes in patient condition
- Ensuring immediate response to urgent and emergent situations
- Improving a number of quality measures such as length of stay, mortality rates, costs and patient satisfaction
- Leveraging expertise of a limited number of intensivists (physician specialists who care for inpatients in hospital critical care units)
- Increasing collaboration among all caregivers
- Facilitating quality data collection, reporting and benchmarking
The initial phase begins May 7 and includes 120 critical care beds at Carolinas Medical Center-Mercy, Carolinas Medical Center-Pineville, Carolinas Medical Center-University, Carolinas Medical Center-Lincoln, Carolinas Medical Center-Union, Cleveland Regional Medical Center in Shelby and Stanly Regional Medical Center in Albemarle. Other hospitals are expected to join the system in coming months.
Initially, about 25 physicians and other staff members will oversee patients at Virtual Critical Care. When fully implemented, the unit will employ about 80 people. At its peak, Virtual Critical Care coverage for all 550 critical care beds across Carolinas HealthCare System will represent the largest project of its kind in the United States.
Other departments such as MedCenter Air dispatch, Physician Connection Link, Telehealth and Bed Management are moving into the same building. Space for all departments at the Mint Hill building will total more than 16,000 square feet.