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An Extra Layer of Care

Posted on August 5, 2021 in Covenant Health

Covenant Health Launches Innovative Virtual Health Initiative for Critical Care Patients at Fort Sanders Regional

patient in bed with critical care nurse and tele-ICU doctor
Fort Sanders Regional is the first of Covenant Health’s nine hospitals to implement tele-ICU services to support the bedside team. Other health system hospitals will add tele-ICU throughout 2021.

Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center is the first hospital in the Covenant Health system to introduce a full complement of telehealth services (“tele-ICU”) for patients in intensive care units. The initiative launched in July in partnership with Hicuity Health, the nation’s leading provider of high-acuity telemedicine services.

Tele-ICU is an expansion of existing critical care services and is designed to support the bedside clinical team. Fort Sanders Regional, which opened a new critical care unit earlier this year, continues to be at the forefront of advanced technology and services designed to improve patient outcomes and overall quality of care.

Using Technology to Put Patients First

The tele-ICU initiative includes opening a Knoxville telehealth operations center, which enables consultation and patient monitoring around the clock through a seamless collaboration of Covenant Health and Hicuity Health critical care nurses and intensivists. These professionals work virtually alongside hospital staff to proactively evaluate critically ill patients and anticipate medical needs before they become urgent.

Jesse Does, MD, in the new tele-ICU command center
Covenant Health intensivist and tele-ICU physician leader Jesse Doers, MD, is one of the physicians available for consult via telehealth technology.

“Our health system is committed to putting our patients first across all aspects of our delivery system,” said Jim VanderSteeg, president and CEO of Covenant Health. “This is especially vital in our critical care areas, where patients who are facing complex medical conditions need the highest level of care. The partnership will enable our teams to collaborate through state-of-the-art technology to provide excellent care for patients in our intensive care units.”

Mandy Grubb Halford, MD, senior vice president and chief medical informatics officer for Covenant Health, says the added layer of care and support will significantly benefit critically ill patients.

“We are passionate about improving patient care and clinical outcomes through tele-ICU services,” said Dr. Halford. “This technology will benefit our bedside team by providing continuous access to critical care expertise, augmenting the excellent care we provide every day.”

The innovative, patient-centered resource will be available at all nine Covenant Health acute care hospitals by the end of 2021, thus providing additional support for critical care services and enhanced care for patients.

About Tele-ICU Services:

  • Each tele-ICU room is equipped with a camera, microphone and monitor that enables two-way communication between the critical care team at the hospital and a remote critical care team.
  • The camera allows a tele-ICU physician at the remote operations center to see the patient and bedside caregivers at the hospital. The patient and care team at the hospital can see and talk with the tele-ICU physician via a microphone and computer monitor.
  • A member of the care team must activate the two-way communication. Video and audio communications are never recorded; when the camera is off, it faces the wall and does not capture video/audio.
  • In addition to visual monitoring, the virtual tele-ICU team can assess the patient’s condition through remote review of vital signs, lab results and other clinical data.
  • All aspects of tele-ICU operations are secure and comply with federal patient privacy and security regulations.