Federal Grant Expands Access to High-Quality eICU Care in Rural Communities
Release Date: 10/28/2008

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  OMAHA, Neb. – 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 Development Grant, Alegent Health is expanding critical care services to its rural regional hospitals. Congressman Lee Terry, joined the USDA, in presenting the award to Alegent Health eICU personnel and rural hospital administrators on Friday, October 24, 2008. “Health care providers and patients in rural areas face obstacles that those in urban areas do not,” said Terry. “The funds will go a long way in providing needed healthcare to many rural Nebraskans. This grant represents the dedication that USDA Rural Development and Alegent Health have to healthcare; and doctors and patients are better off because of it.” Rural hospitals are often only 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 for nearly a month, closes the 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 eFocus Operations Director Kim Sieck, RN, MSN, CCRN. “They can push the button and we can answer and then help give them any resources or references we may have.” The eICU Program, patented by VISICU, is in use in more than 200 hospitals around the country. How the VISICU eICU Program 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 by specialists,” said Darcy Behrendt, Chief Nurse Executive at Community Memorial Hospital. “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 www.alegent.com. About VISICU VISICU, Inc., a Philips Company, is a healthcare information technology and clinical solutions company focused on transforming the delivery of critical care through its eICU Program. Through remote monitoring technology and clinical intelligence, experienced critical care resources are leveraged to provide enhanced intensivist coverage and early intervention for safer, more effective patient care. Currently more than 200 hospitals serving over 250,000 patients annually have partnered with VISICU to implement eICU programs. More information is available at www.VISICU.com. eICU® is a registered trademark of VISICU, Inc. All rights reserved