615 6th St SE, Stanley, ND 58784
Mountrail County Medical Center’s Emergency Care Department was recently expanded. The project, Phase One of the current Three Phase expansion and renovation effort, also installed the CT Scanner to provide permanent and full time access to a vital diagnostic technology.
Increases in patient numbers have continued to grow. Hospital medical providers and nursing staff have noticed that not only are they seeing more trauma patients, but they see more severe injuries and more multiple patient accidents. So it follows that the next logical question is, “How do we provide 24 hour coverage in our Emergency Care Department with a limited number of providers?”
Dr. Mark Longmuir says the local providers who provide coverage for the hospital often find themselves with long days and short nights while they cover their practices in the clinic and the Emergency Care Department too.
“We are continuing to seek new providers, but we are also taking advantage of new advancements in technology,” said Longmuir.
MCMC utilizes the Avera “eEmergency” Program, which is available to the providers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The program is based in Sioux Falls, SD and is provided through the Avera Hospital system. By literally the push of a button, the Avera “eEmergency” program allows MCMC to have access to 19 board-certified emergency physicians, backed up by emergency trained nurses.
The system was installed at MCMC in July of 2013 and was paid for by a $250,000 restricted grant from the Helmsley Foundation. Using two-way video technology and high definition cameras, eEmergency is able to assist local providers in treating trauma, heart attack, stroke and other critical conditions. Almost 100 hospitals in 5 states take advantage of the program.
Recently, several patients arrived at the MCMC Emergency Room within a 15 minute period. The provider on call, Nurse Practitioner Tara Nardacci, with assistance from two nurses, were faced with the need to treat and stabilize two explosion/burn patients, a person trampled by a cow and a couple of non-critical patients, all at the same time. The Avera system allowed MCMC staff to access the specialists, and receive assistance in charting, expedited arrangements for air transport and communication at a level that almost seemed as if the specialists were in the Emergency Room in Stanley.
“Having access to expert consultation at the push of a button made a difference in treatment and outcome,” said Nardacci, “but there is great value in knowing that we can use them to assist us in non-trauma situations too….things like second opinions on EKGs and visual examination of other medical conditions.”
The system, installed in two of MCMC’s new emergency/trauma rooms, allows the Avera specialists to watch in real-time, the treatment of patients. They monitor the progress on multiple screens and can adjust the MCMC cameras to provide the best view. All the while, MCMC staff can see the attending staff at Avera.
Equally as important is the support of the Avera nursing staff that takes the responsibility for charting the treatment and interfacing with other hospitals that could receive a patient who has to be transferred to a larger facility or specialty hospital.
Nardacci noted, “Accessing specialists in other hospitals who must approve the transfer is much more time consuming than you might think. All the time you invest in waiting on the phone is time that isn’t being spent with the patient.”
In the case of the burn victims, Nardacci said, “The Avera system had the fixed-wing air ambulances in the air and on the way to Stanley before we could have initiated the call.” The patients were transferred to the Burn Center at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
The system is of value in provider recruitment too, according to Longmuir. “When we can point to support systems such as Avera, it helps to convince prospective providers that we have the necessary technology,” he said. “And while we have a great mix of skilled and experienced people working here, there is always a greater degree of comfort in knowing that you have immediate access to some of the best specialists in the country.”
MCMC is very willing to give anyone that is interested in seeing this technology a tour of the new ER expansion and the Avera eEmergency program. Visits can be set up by calling the Foundation Director, Steph Everett, at 628-1405.
Pictured is Nurse Practitioner, Tara Nardacci with the Avera eEmergency System