By Becky Carter
President/CNO, Blue Ridge Regional Hospital
Mission Health and Blue Ridge Regional Hospital (BRRH) work continuously to improve the experience of our patients, whether it’s something as simple as finding a hospital parking space, or as complex as working to create a treatment plan with your physician. For hospitals, maintaining a state-of-the-art facility is critical to ensuring high quality care. I’m proud that BRRH offers a modern care setting to our patients and prioritizes keeping current, so we can move confidently into the future.
We’re particularly excited about several new technology tools BRRH has acquired that help us provide measurably better care. Our Nurses Station is now equipped with an innovative electronic patient dashboard that monitors subtle changes in heartbeat, blood pressure and other vital statistics that indicate whether a patient’s condition is improving or declining. An easy-to-interpret green-yellow-red indicator shows when any patient requires closer attention or action.
Sepsis is a very serious condition caused by an infection in the blood stream that can affect hospitalized patients. If not caught early and treated rigorously, sepsis may be deadly. Nationally, approximately 250,000 people die from sepsis. You’ll be pleased to know that BRRH now has an automated sepsis early warning system that nurses can use to identify critical changes in patients’ conditions that may point to sepsis. When the computer application indicates that a patient is at risk, nurses can monitor closely, alert the physician and administer treatment much earlier. With this new tool at our disposal, lives are being saved.
Electronic heart monitors produce tracings that are also routinely observed by BRRH nurses. Should the local nurse be busy with patient care and not see an important change, a backup clinical observation team is also watching from an off-site central monitoring station. If a concerning change occurs, the observer calls the patient’s nurse at BRRH directly via a secure phone. This system ensures that patients are safe and cared for quickly, when needed.
Another high tech medical game changer is telemedicine, which is playing a larger role in wound care at BRRH. All hospitalized patients are at increased risk for wounds if they are in a bed, even if less than 24 hours. We use a high-definition camera here to send patients’ wound images to a certified wound care nurse at Mission Hospital’s Wound Center who provides expert consultation. This solution couldn’t come at a better time, because there’s a nationwide shortage of these highly specialized wound care nurses. The remote viewing protocol complements our high tech beds and practices of moving patients and encouraging activity to combat the development of bed sores.
We’re very proud to have these new monitoring, diagnostic and treatment technologies – often found only in large, urban medical centers – at our disposal right here in Spruce Pine. But alone, they are not enough. The key to our enhanced care is BRRH’s team of highly skilled nurses themselves. Their advanced training, experience, compassion and sharp instincts are what allow these tools to create ever-safer patient experiences. Without smart users, technology is just equipment.
BRRH places the patient at the center of all care. With new and groundbreaking technologies like the Nursing Station clinical dashboard, sepsis alert system, heart monitor observation backup program and telemedicine access, we’ll be even more responsive to your needs. Since these systems allow us to intervene before a situation becomes serious, our patients will experience more positive outcomes, and return to their homes and families sooner.
Rebecca W. Carter, MSN, RN, FACHE, is President and Chief Nursing Officer of Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in Spruce Pine. Carter has served in senior hospital management for over 20 years and previously served as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Nursing Officer of Transylvania Regional Hospital in Brevard, also a part of the Mission Health system. Carter is board certified in healthcare management and is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE). A native of North Carolina, she holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in nursing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Carter is currently a resident of Burnsville.