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Let's come out of the gate with the idea of working smarter, not harder.  Imagine some areas of patient care that are not all hands on deck every second but still need close attention and the ability to interact, log reports, communicate and most of all, free up the hands of the team of nurses and care givers that are doing all they can while the national healthcare worker shortage continues to plague us, and the rest of the healthcare systems across the country?  Linda Dunmore is the Chief Nursing Officer at Trinity Health Muskegon and explains this innovative approach that's made it's way to Muskegon.  

 

TogetherTeam Virtual Connected Care is here.  To some, the idea of a "virtual nurse" seems like science fiction.  To those in need of care, if something simple like a request for a glass of water...an extra blanket, maybe it's a hygiene kit or a box of kleenex, traditionally, you hit the call nurse button.  With the addition of TogetherTeam Virtual Connected Care it's as easy as hitting the button for the simpler things that a nursing extern, a nursing aid or another designated staff member can bring you so they can let the nurses carry on with their roles taking care of the patients that have need for more attention in their care.  It's really a remarkable use of modern technology, and it's been in place at a number of different hospitals who have also been in the same situation we have where the hands on deck, well, they are stretched pretty thin.  This innovative new care model is designed to bring MORE hands-on deck for each patient: a three-person care team, including two direct-care RNs—one virtual and one at the bedside—as well as a care partner (NA, CNA, LPN/LVN) is assigned to each patient, and they work together as a team to provide care. So in reality, patients have an ‘extra’ RN on their team who is available to them at the touch of a button. This is currently in place on the 9th and 10th floors. 

The technology....it's amazing.  Nothing is recorded, it's just a camera to speak face to face with a nurse.... the nursing team that's been put in place to handle this... almost 200 years combined experience, and they are right on the campus of our hospital.  The cameras are sensitive enough to see the pupils of eyes and their state of dilation or they can read monitors and see fluids that are being given.  The camera is also non intrusive.  If you are being sought from the nursing end, there's a knocking sound asking for permission to engage.  You can opt for video or audio and when complete, the camera is off and facing the wall.  It might be hard for some to use, and it might be a personal preference, but the thought here is that giving the nurses just enough extra space to take care of the multiple levels of patient care they have to, it's a step in the right direction and YOU can still get that delicious frozen treat hidden in a freezer on the floor somewhere by finding someone who's more available to assist. 

Some have said "It's a great back up".  Others have said, "I like this virtual one, it's pretty cool."  It's an adaptation that I personally didn't even see at the Mayo Clinic when I was there last summer.  The TogetherTeam Virtual Connected Care model is unique to Trinity Health and is currently live in 57 nursing units in 21 hospitals in 10 states, and will expand at a rapid pace.  So, while we all work to help restore the levels of caregivers that we need across the country, I have to say that this seems like a pretty good way to help with some of the pressure and stress on those who are here taking care of us and it also feeds into helping those learning to be a caregiver positions where they can be an active participant at a learners level in some cases and others, get to refine their years of knowledge in getting the right person there when needed for patient care.  

Our many thanks to Linda Dunmore for the chance to learn about this new approach and as well to Trinity Health for their sponsorship of our work and their work for us all in Muskegon. 

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