AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center is taking steps to better care for its critical care patients by putting more doctors and nurses on call - virtually.
A system called Tele-ICU allows the local intensive care unit to link up via teleconference with critical care experts at the Cincinnati VA Medical Center.
"What the Tele-ICU provides is an additional set of nursing eyes to look at the patient 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in addition to the critical care nurse that we have at the bedside looking at the patient," said Clark Garner, critical care unit medical director with the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center.
Garner said intensive care experts are spread thin, and the extra help will make for better patient care.
"Our critical care workforce is becoming more compromised," Garner said. "We don't necessarily have enough critical care doctors to take care of all the critical care beds in America."
Charlie Norwood VA said they've been working on getting the system up and running for 18 months.
"In Dublin, Ga. or Montgomery, Ala., you might not have critical care doctors in those communities, so it's a way of getting those doctors in those communities there without having to move them there."
Tele-ICU staff can assist the bedside nurse or doctor by making phone calls, being a second verifier and placing orders. A critical care doctor is available Monday through Friday between 4 p.m. and 8a.m., and around the clock on weekends.