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White River Medical Center implements eICU program

By Lisa Burnett

This article was published January 5, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.


Dr. Chris Steele, an anesthesiologist at White River Medical Center in Searcy, and Rachel Vaughn, a registered nurse in the hospital’s intensive-care unit, discuss a patient’s health with a physician from Baptist Health’s Command Center in Little Rock through a two-way monitoring system called eICU care.

BATESVILLE — Programs like FaceTime and Skype allow people to video chat across the world. Such technology now allows the nurses and doctors of the eICU program at White River Medical Center in Batesville to discuss medical conditions with specialists at Baptist Health System in Little Rock.

The hospital recently put the eICU program into place in its Intensive Care Unit at the Batesville facility. The acronym eICU stands for Electronic Intensive Care Unit.

The hospital’s eICU is a monitoring program through the Baptist Health System that gives patients an additional team of critical-care specialists who watch over them 24/7.

“It’s a way for us to provide an extra resource for our patients,” said Jennifer Sherberth, interim nurse manager for White River’s ICU. “It’s a web camera that gives physicians and the nursing staff at Baptist in Little Rock a way to continuously monitor our patients.”

The two mobile units can be moved to any of the 13 beds in the Batesville ICU.

“[The units] can move from room to room,” Sherberth said. “We triage our patients every day to see who is the most critical.”

When the nursing staff decides which patients need the most scrutinizing care at the time, the eICU monitoring unit is moved to that patient’s room.

“It’s a huge step in the care that we provide here that we haven’t had before. It allows us to keep patients here who are critically ill,” Sherberth said. “It’s a more convenient way for the families and patients to receive the best care available.”

Sherberth said that before the hospital had eICU, critically ill patients would be transported to Little Rock to see specialists.

“We hope in the future to have 13 mobile units so each patient receives the same level of care,” she said. “There’s always someone watching the patient. [The staff at Baptist] is able to see what’s going on from the other end of the camera.

The ICU nurse on the other end of the camera can see several monitors at the same time and have access to [patients’] vital signs and medical records.”

Sherberth said the new system gives the nursing staff extra pairs of eyes and ears for the patients.

“This system also allows us — if we had a patient who was critically ill — we could step away to another patient, knowing the other nurse could alert us or call us and say what’s wrong,” Sherberth said.

Jamie Nguyen, nurse manager for the ICU at White River Medical Center, said the new system also allows for enhanced education of the staff in the hospital.

“It provides clinical expertise to our nursing staff at WRMC, and we’re also using it for the nursing benefits,” Nguyen said. “If we’re taking care of a disease we’ve never worked with, it can educate us along the way, along with providing critical-care expertise.”

Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or


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