VA hospital adds telehealth technology in ICU Doctors in Cincinnati will be able to monitor patients through system as part of a multi-million doll

Medical professionals at Fort Wayne’s VA Hospital on Lake Avenue unveiled a new feature at a ceremony Wednesday.

The Tele-ICU system will enable medical personnel at the VA’s regional facility in Cincinnati to monitor patients and advise doctors and nurses in Fort Wayne’s intensive care unit.

Eight beds in the ICU and emergency room areas will have Tele-ICU capability.

The technology is part of a multi-million dollar upgrade to the local VA hospital that includes renovations of long-term care rooms that will begin in the coming months.

“This technology gives an extra set of eyes and ears at the patient’s bedside,” said James Dougherty, associate chief of staff of Acute Medicine Services at VA Northern Indiana Health Care System, which includes the hospitals in Fort Wayne and Marion. “Many people hope that there is constant monitoring in the ICU because things can change quickly. Telehealth helps by having specially trained nurses and physicians that can assist us in caring for our patients that are admitted here in the ICU.”

With the new system, trained physicians in Cincinnati will be able to monitor a patient’s vital signs and trends via remote in real time. A button may be pushed to produce a video link between Fort Wayne’s VA ICU and Cincinnati, further enhancing treatment.

The system is monitored around the clock.

Fort Wayne’s VA Hospital has had other telehealth technology in other areas for more than five years, but the addition of the ICU to the platform, coupled with 24/7 monitoring, is a significant gain for the facility as it looks to provide the best care for America’s veterans.

“For us, this is a quantum leap,” Dougherty said. “Before, we would transfer many vets to community hospitals or to (the VA hospitals in) Indianapolis or Ann Arbor because we did not have the full capabilities to take care of them.”

Last year, VA facilities provided telehealth care to over 600,000 veterans in over 2 million individual encounters.