Alegent Health Offers New Critical Care Services to Rural Hospitals
Release Date: 10/10/2008

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MISSOURI VALLEY, Iowa – New technology is bringing a greater sense of security to critically ill patients and their families at Alegent Health. Funded in part by a USDA – Rural Learning Grant, Missouri Valley’s Community Memorial Hospital is now the sixth Alegent Health hospital to implement the eFocus Monitoring Center (view the video), which ensures patients receive the highest quality of care. It is also the first critical access hospital in the country to implement two-way communication like the eICU and ePharmacy. eICU A person critically hurt in a car accident in a rural area can face a much more difficult road to recovery compared to someone injured in a similar crash near the city. Rural hospitals are often equipped to stabilize trauma and critically ill patients before transferring them to the nearest full-service metropolitan hospital for further care. The new eICU, which has been in use at Community Memorial Hospital since September 30, 2008, closes this coverage gap. Physicians and critical care nurses, staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week at Omaha’s eICU hub, can now assist bedside caregivers in the diagnosis, treatment and management of trauma and critically ill patients. “It’s like OnStar for nurses,” said Kim Sieck, RN, MSN, CCRN, eFocus Operations Director. “They can push the button and we can answer and then help give them any resources or references we may have.” How it works:
  • The hospital equipment transmits patient vital signs to Hub critical care workers.
  • Hub workers monitor procedures, direct treatment and immediately alert Emergency Department and ICU personnel when a patient’s condition shows even the slightest change.
  • Video-conferencing/Video-assessment equipment enables live interaction between the eICU team and those at the bedside.
  • “It gives us the opportunity to keep more critical patients close to home and family, while still being a part of a critical care environment with 24/7 monitoring and continual monitoring by specialists,” said Darcy Behrendt, Chief Nurse Executive at Community Memorial Hospital. “The nurses are excited about this process going live,” said Mike Baker, Community Memorial Hospital’s Foundation Coordinator of Medical Services. “It’s going to be a real asset for them. And as the cold and flu season creeps closer, I think that they will find these services to be even more of an asset.” ePharmacy Improved service is also at the heart of ePharmacy. Alegent Health’s rural hospitals fill around 380 to 500 prescriptions every month, but pharmacists are only on site an average of 30 hours per week. The new ePharmacy offers remote pharmacy service to patients and medical staff 24 hours a day – 7 days a week. How it works:
  • Scanned images of prescriptions issued at hospitals like Community Memorial in Missouri Valley are sent electronically to the Alegent Health Hub.
  • The pharmacist reviews, processes and verifies the prescription.
  • The patient’s medical records are checked to ensure proper dosing, allergies, duplication of therapy and drug interactions.
  • The pharmacist then electronically authorizes dispensing the prescription.
  • Nationally, medication errors, drug reactions and overdosing results in the deaths of some 218,000 people every year. Not only does the ePharmacy provide constant pharmacy coverage for patients in rural hospitals, it improves patient safety by requiring a pharmacist to review each order. It also reduces turnaround time which allows patients to start their medication therapies sooner. “The grant has helped Alegent Health bring the resources found in our five metropolitan hospitals to the rural hospitals,” said Mary Anderson, Alegent Health Network Manager. “This is a true example of Alegent Health’s mission; and is a benefit to the patients, families and surrounding communities.” About Alegent Health Alegent Health is the largest not-for-profit, faith-based healthcare system in Nebraska and southwestern Iowa with nine acute care hospitals, more than 100 sites of service, over 1,300 physicians on its medical staff and roughly 9,000 employees. Alegent Health is ranked first in the country in quality and patient satisfaction according to the Network for Regional healthcare Improvement (NRHI). That exceptional commitment to providing patient focused care for the body, mind and spirit of every person keeps Alegent Health faithful to its Mission, which was inspired by its sponsors, Catholic Health Initiatives and Immanuel Health Systems. At Alegent Health, patients and their families find a continuum of care, from women's and children's services, primary care, wellness counseling, and senior care to cardiovascular services, orthopaedics, oncology, physical rehabilitation and behavioral health. Alegent Health is online at