Banner Churchill Community Hospital has taken a big technological step that allows specialists to see patients through a video set-up hundreds of miles away from Fallon.
Although Banner had the technology for a year, the Fallon hospital could not fully implement the program because — at the time — “state law mandated that physicians had to be licensed to practice medicine in the state they saw patients,” said John D’Angelo, CEO of Banner Churchill.
The technology dubbed Banner iCare is fully functional in Fallon, which became the first Nevada hospital to offer the service after the passage of a state bill that changed the existing law to allow physicians to establish a patient relationship “telephonically” or through telehealth capabilities.
Banner Health is the first health care provider in Arizona, Colorado and Nevada to use this technology, and it covers 430 ICU (intensive care unit) patient beds throughout 18 of Banner’s 24 hospitals.
D’Angelo said Banner worked with its lobbyists and sponsors along with Assemblyman Tom Grady and State Sen. James Settelmeyer to pass the bill. D’Angelo also traveled to Carson City to testify before the state legislature to change the law. On June 16, Gov. Brian Sandoval signed the bill into law. D’Angelo said it is exciting that Banner Churchill became the first hospital in the state to provide the new technology to its patients.
“This allows for a level of support for the ICU patients,” D’Angelo explained. “The doctors work out of Phoenix or Colorado or another part of the world.”
Before the law went into effect, hospitals relied on critical care nurses talking to other critical care nurses in another sate, D’Angelo said.
Now, according to D’Angelo, specialists in Mesa, Ariz., for example, can monitor patients in Nevada seven days a week, 24 hours a day with the help of cameras, microphones and monitors. He said the data tells the medical staff the progress made by the patient and the duration the patient will spend in ICU. D’Angelo said this program has saved lives and is reducing the time patients stay in the ICU.
“The ICU goal is to provide the best service possible and support the patient and family,” D’Angelo said.
Joy Schultz, an ICU registered nurse, said the technology magnifies the team approach in treating the patient
“The doctors (out of state) are down to earth and friendly,” she said of the additional help. “Two different physicians were both wonderful and were asking what I thought. I was their eyes and ears for them.”
Schultz said she has established a good working relationship with the nurses in Arizona. By working side by side, she said the nurses look at trends and make determinations together. Because of the technology, Schultz said nurses now have access to charts and can also write a medical order.
While Banner Churchill became the first in the state to begin the new procedure, others are following, said Rob Carnahan, chief of nursing at Banner Churchill. He said Renown Medical Center in Reno and the University of Nevada, Reno, have a program using telemedicine. Carnahan said Renown can also expand its services and see more patients, while the UNR project will allow more two-way communication in the rural areas.