Another layer of safety for patients has been added in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital (MWH). The hospital is now linked to the UMass Memorial Health Care eICU system, a patient-monitoring system that works in concert with the MWH physicians and nurses in the ICU to provide an extra level of expert care, consultation and round-the-clock monitoring of these critically ill patients.

UMass physicians and nurses who are specially trained in intensive care medicine monitor patients electronically through voice, data and video monitoring, 24-hours a day, seven-days-a-week. This team works in concert with the MWH medical team monitoring vital signs such as blood pressure, oxygen saturation, heart rate and other patient information.

Using a two-way, high resolution video cameras with audio capabilities at the patient’s bedside, the UMass team can also speak directly with the MWH team or with the patient and family should a health concern arise. The MWH team can also contact UMass directly by pressing a button should they have a question or an area of concern. The video monitors are not always on, but they can be activated in an instant when the UMass team is needed or they spot a potential problem. Patients are treated with the same attentive, courteous Hallmark Health care on screen as they are by a live staff person.

Kellie Smith, RN, BSN, director of critical care at MWH, explains, “It is the future of intensive care medicine. In addition to the expert care we provide here, our ICU patients will have direct round-the-clock access to a teaching hospital’s expertise in intensive care. There is no substitute for hands-on direct patient care, but the eICU system can quickly alert staff to changes that indicate a patient is getting into trouble, faster than the staff may be able to detect.” 

Smith continues, “Our outcomes were always very good, but this eICU program adds an extra level of safety and back-up. Through telemedicine, our patients will be getting the same level of care, monitoring and expertise they would receive in a teaching hospital, right here in their local community hospital.”

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