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CMH Uses “TeleSitters” and Remote Monitoring To Enhance Patient and Staff Safety

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Remote monitoring cuts down on close staff-patient contact and helps to preserve personal protective equipment

Thanks to technology, nurses and other caregivers at Community Memorial Hospital (CMH) in Ventura have a new way to monitor and communicate with COVID-19 and other high-risk patients. Now, with help from remote “TeleSitters,” physicians and staff at CMH can observe and care for such patients effectively while also minimizing close staff-patient interactions.

In early April, CMH began using a new in-room, remote monitoring system from Michigan-based AvaSure that enhances the safety of staff and patients and also reduces the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks and gowns. The system allows nurses and other trained staff to monitor and communicate in real time with up to 16 patients remotely, with the help of camera-enabled TeleSitters in the patient’s room.

“This system is not a replacement for nurses, physicians, or the vital work they are doing,” explained Elaina Hall, CMH’s Director of Emergency Services and Ambulatory Patient Care. “We have a number of safety measures in place, and this is an additional tool for further protecting patients, physicians, and staff.”

“Patients are not being recorded with audio or video,” continued Hall. “And they still use the call bell if they need something.”

Nurses know that human touch is very important to hospitalized patients and are still at the bedside often. But for COVID-19 patients, it’s safer for patients, physicians, and staff to minimize the number of times a staffer goes in and out of the patient’s room and has close encounters. Using a remote system also helps conserve much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks and gowns, which are vital resources in short supply. The AvaSure TeleSitters technology is also HIPAA compliant and meets all privacy requirements.

Here’s how the system works: The camera rests atop a six-foot-tall mobile stand that pivots around and is controlled by a nurse, technician or trained staffer at a monitoring station. The nurse logs in and can monitor up to 16 patients at once on a TV-like screen. The nurse can talk to patients in real time via a speaker. If a patient needs something, they can use a call light and their nurse will respond. If it’s a safety or critical issue, or an alarm goes off, someone responds in-person immediately. If the patient has a non-urgent request, someone will attend to the need as soon as possible or when a nurse goes into the patient’s room for another reason. This helps to cut down on unnecessary patient-staff contacts.

The TeleSitters can be used in any part of the hospital. CMH is primary using this technology in regular patient rooms , with a core staff of trained nurses and techs manning the monitoring station.

The use of TeleSitters is expected to expand as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Healthcare organizations have had to respond to a huge demand for their services, leading them to re-evaluate their responses and get creative with new ideas, while also prioritizing the safety of patients and employees. During the pandemic, many hospitals, including CMHS, have used TeleSitters for COVID-19 patients to prevent spreading the virus and preserve PPE.