Rural health care providers have one more tool in their high tech arsenal for treating emergency patients. It's called eEmergency and its part of Avera's eCare suite of services. We went to the Avera Flandreau Medical Center to see how a little red button, two-way video screens and ER doctors on staff around the clock are helping save lives from hundreds of miles away.
Pam Kepford loves her job as a registered nurse at the Avera Flandreau Medical Center. She loves it even more now that Avera Fandreau is one of 30 sites within the Avera Health Network to offer eEmergency services. With a touch of this button, Pam and her co-workers are linked through two-way video to emergency-trained doctors and specialists, in this case, at Avera McKennan in Sioux Falls who are on staff in the eEmergency bunker 24/7.
Kepford says, "There is nothing like having someone right there. Right there and then when you need them. There's a physician and a nurse. So often in my ER it would be one RN and one LPN so it's nice to have re-assurance that there is someone else there right when you need them."
In rural communities like Flandreau, two doctors share the duties of seeing patients in the clinic, in the hospital and take 24 hour on-call shifts for the emergency room. If a patient shows up in the middle of the night having a heart attack, stroke or traumatic injury the nurses can already have things in motion through eEmergency while the doctor's en route.
Dr. Gary Bruning with Avera Flandreau Medical Center says, "It's nice to have another set of eyes, another set of ears, somebody else's experiences, something you may have forgotten. There is a multitude of things that go on in an emergency; medications, make sure the airway is established, breathing, circulation and then in the middle of that someone may ask you a question that needs your attention and you get involved in that and the Dr. on the line (eEmergency screen) may say take a look at this and you forgot because you were involved in another issue so another set of eyes always helps. Always."
Deanna Larson is Vice President of Quality Inititiaves for Avera Health. She says eCare brings Avera's mission to life which is to improve the lives of the people and communities they serve.
Larson says, "A big piece of eCARE is it's shown that people do better if they are able to recieve care close to home and close to the their family. It's a real difficulty to have to move your family to another community that they are not used to. They need that support system to get better."
That's what eEmergency, eCAREe provides; support for the local staff to continue to give great care right at home.
Dr. Bruning says eEmergency has already had a profound impact. It helped save the lives of two patients in the last two months at the Avera Flandreau Medical Center.