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Novant Health distributes tele-ICU carts to Rowan, other medical centers

SALISBURY — Novant Health Rowan Medical Center has received 20 tele-ICU carts to help enable remote monitoring and treatment of intensive care patients.

The technology will effectively improve access to critical care services and reduce the transfer rate to other hospitals so patients can receive care closer to home, a news release said. The ICU carts were also deployed to Novant Health’s hospitals in Brunswick County and in Matthews. Eventually, there will be a distribution of 120 of the units. Next in line are Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center, Novant Health Kernersville Medical Center, Novant Health Mint Hill Medical Center and Novant Health Thomasville Medical Center.

“While health care continues to advance technologically each year, the United States still faces a physician and nursing shortage in the acute care setting. Novant Health is working to address the national shortage of intensivists and critical care nurses at community hospitals through the launch of a new tele-ICU program,” the company said about the cart deployment. 

The carts are equipped with a camera and are more than 6 feet tall. They will allow critical care medical providers at an off-site command center to remotely monitor patients and provide supplemental real-time audio, visual and electronic support to the bedside care team. The implementation of the new telemedicine technology was accelerated earlier this year by Stewart-Haas Racing, a championship-winning NASCAR team based in Kannapolis. The racing team began building the carts in April as a way to support the health care system during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are excited to introduce Novant Health’s tele-ICU to provide supplemental care to our critical care patients at multiple sites across our footprint,” said Dr. Daniel Feinstein, a critical care medicine physician at Novant Health Kernersville Medical Center. “Through telehealth, we can leverage the most cutting-edge digital technology to remotely assist our bedside team members and providers with care plans and enhance communication with patients and family members.”

Intensivists who support the tele-ICU teams in the hospital will stay in direct communication with bedside physicians to follow care plans and support local providers, thus reducing the hospital’s readmission rate. The tele-ICU program is also expected to advance quality metrics for the bedside nursing team by improving early detection of changes in the patient’s condition. This will allow nurses to better assess and immediately respond to critical care patient needs, a news release said. 

Funding for the project is made possible by $1.54 million awarded to Novant Health as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, passed by Congress and signed into law in March. Novant Health said the funding will also enable it to further expand its telemedicine capabilities with the acquisition of tablets, laptops, touch screen monitors, cameras and other telehealth equipment to better serve patients through digital technology.

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