Sentara eICU program celebrates 20 years of saving lives

Posted at 2:12 PM, Jun 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-25 16:32:09-04

NORFOLK, Va. - For decades, Sentara Healthcare has been keeping families together by saving lives.

While their work with COVID-19 has been on the forefront of the conversation the past few months, what's happening behind the scenes is just as notable.

On June 26, 2000, the healthcare system launched the nation’s first remote monitoring and management program for hospital ICU patients.

Now in 2020, as hospitals across the world fight a global pandemic, the service of Sentara's eICU is more important than ever. It has reduced ICU mortality and length-of-stay among the sickest and most rapidly changing patients.

"Constant monitoring of patients, early recognition of changes in their conditions and rapid response is what we do,” says Steven Fuhrman, MD, Medical Director for the Sentara eICU program. “We are extra eyes and ears for the care teams in the ICU and we help them respond quickly and most effectively when patients’ conditions change.”

According to a spokesperson for the hospital, the eICU program covers 132 ICU beds at eight Sentara hospitals from multi-screen computer work stations in the command center at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.

"Intensivist physicians and critical care nurses monitor telemetry, laboratory results, respiratory status and more for changes that require rapid intervention," they said. "An alert system, designed and built at Sentara, prompts the team around changes in vital signs, cardiovascular and respiratory status and lab results."

High-resolution remote-controlled cameras allow the team to directly observe patients. The significance of virtual healthcare is even more significant during the pandemic when PPE supplies are low and patients are often quarantined to their designated rooms.

According to hospital statistics, to date, Sentara eICU has contributed to a 26.4% decrease in hospital mortality and a decline in ICU length-of-stay of 17%, which helps reduce the overall cost of a hospitalization.

“eICU helps us keep patients safe from self-harm, allows continual and recurrent evaluation in rapidly changing situations and helps us coordinate complex multidisciplinary care,” says Dr. Fuhrman. “In our experience, eICU serves the Sentara mission to improve health every day by providing critically ill patients a better chance to go home.”