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Avera Medical Minute: eCARE helps small town hospitals during pandemic

 Avera eCARE helps small-town hospitals during pandemic
Avera eCARE helps small-town hospitals during pandemic (KSFY)
Published: Jun. 12, 2020 at 8:24 PM CDT
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A few months ago, Avera Physician's Assistant Hannah Jessen watched a very sick patient at the ER in O'Neill, Nebraska. The entire team was ready for their first suspected COVID-19 case.

"You don't know exactly what's gonna walk through those ER doors," said Jessen. "He was drowsy and having a hard time breathing and his oxygen levels were low."

The small town critical access hospital was just a connection away from extra help.

"I had hit the emergency button," said Jessen.

Within seconds, the eCARE connection was made

"We don't have as many hands as in a critical access hospital as a larger facility may," said Jessen.

The eCARE team was ready to help with dosing, advise procedures, and help with charting.

"Another set of eyes to help look at lab values as well as assess and look at the patient clinically and help determine what's going to be the best care," said Jessen.

Certified registered nurse anesthetist Josh Becker was in the ER to provide critical care, for the patient who was confirmed later to have the Coronavirus.

"For a rural facility, eCARE is pretty crucial for supporting our family practice and ER nurse practitioners and PAs, and from that standpoint it really allows them to take care of a wider more critical aspects of individuals that we may not see very often," said Becker.

In an instant, eCARE professionals came alongside the ER team virtually.

"Expands all the resources I have to utilize and get the patient the best care possible," said Becker.

The patient was able to recover. Chief Medical Officer at Avera eCARE Dr. Brian Skow knows of many similar stories of eCARE making a difference in small-town hospitals and clinics.

"So the current pandemic is really a bittersweet moment for telemedicine. Telemedicine in this arena is a force multiplier and what we have to do is ramp up our services quickly. To do that we offered additional peripherals to our sites which included iPads, so we could have multiple points of contact with patients when they came in. In addition we staffed up our nurses and physicians here in our virtual hospital. We had to do this essentially overnight," said Dr. Skow.

The partnership is essential.

"Providing that level of support is really key to taking care of these critical patients that come in with serious COVID signs and symptoms," said Dr. Skow.

This is eCARE's shining moment, bringing the best medical knowledge available to any size community.

"Rural facilities that are practicing in isolation. And when I think of the heroes that are practicing. They really fit the picture. They are near and dear to us and to see them do such an amazing job resuscitating this patient, essentially saving his life, is really what makes a difference," said Dr. Skow.

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