As COVID-19 increases in scale, morbidity and mortality, many health systems and hospitals have been redeploying their TeleSitters to monitor and interact with patients being treated for the incredibly contagious disease. Hundreds of clients have taken up AvaSure’s offer of a free, temporary software license to establish separate command centers from which clinical staff can continuously visualize and communicate with coronavirus patients spread out across hospitals from the emergency department to isolation rooms to the intensive care unit. In some hotspots, clients are adding more mobile devices to their networks.
This new use of remote safety monitoring serves multiple purposes, including reducing caregiver close encounters with infected patients, slowing the burn rate of scarce personal protective equipment and improving communication among caregivers, patients and families.
When an alarm sounds from a pulse oximeter or infusion pump, the monitor is able to establish whether or not there is a need to enter an isolation room. The same goes for routine patient requests that are non-urgent, avoiding staff having to put on gloves, gowns, masks and face shields to respond, only to have to throw most of it away minutes later while having taken a needless risk of exposure.
“Having a camera and audio in the room allows the monitor to respond to alarms from medical equipment that are more often in error than not,” notes AvaSure founder and CEO Brad Playford. “Also, it allows for much more frequent interaction with quarantined patients who are not in ICU and on ventilation. Often, these patients are lonely as well as sick, as their families cannot visit in person.”
A few hospitals have established what are being called “compassion stations,” where loved ones can safely say farewell to the terminally ill.
Among the other benefits has been at least some consolation for weary caregivers. In hospitals in hotspots like New York, Seattle and Detroit, there is a psychological benefit just in letting caregivers know that new resources are on their way.
AvaSure has been in conversations with legislative leaders in Washington, proposing legislation Playford calls the Caregiver Defense Act to provide funding for more devices and monitor staff. “Lawmakers could show immediate support and stand up for our nation’s frontline clinical staff – who are putting their lives on the line to save victims of this pandemic – and provide matching funds for hospital systems to add more remote monitoring capabilities to their existing networks,” he said. Alternatively, some funds from either earlier legislation or a fourth stimulus bill could be appropriated for this purpose, he added.
“Whatever happens, we at AvaSure are proud to once again see our clients innovating in how they use the ever-adaptable resource known as the TeleSitter for such an important purpose,” Playford said. “If we at AvaSure are able to play even a small role in keeping staff and patients safer during this crisis, it will be something none of us ever forget.”
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