WVU Medicine Potomac Valley Hospital (PVH) became the pilot site for a telemedicine Intensive Care Unit Program initiative of the West Virginia University Health System. The Virtual ICU, or V-ICU, opened in October 2018 and 35 patients were admitted into the unit in its first thirty days of operation. Through telemedicine, providers from PVH are able to work in collaboration with board certified Intensivists from WVU Medicine’s J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital. Patients are able to receive a higher level of care and more acute treatment close to home, without having to travel for their care.
Through the drive of PVH President and CEO, Mark Boucot, the V-ICU initiative is now a reality for the residents of Mineral County and the surrounding region. Alison Wilson, M.D., executive director for the Critical Care and Trauma Institute has been spearheading the project on behalf of WVU Medicine, to get the project started. Utilizing video technology, Dr. Wilson and her team of Intensivists conduct “virtual rounds” with the ICU patients and are available on-call, 24-hours to help support local physicians with emergent concerns.
“We round with the local team, discuss the issues and develop a plan for each patient. Care is coordinated in partnership with the local hospital staff to assure continuity as the local team involved and understands the specific needs of each patient. This partnership builds trust and relationships with the providers at Potomac Valley Hospital and assures effective patient care management. It has been a pleasure to work with Potomac Valley Hospital to start this innovative team approach to help support the care being delivered to acutely ill patients,” said Dr. Wilson.
Charles Bess, MD, a physician at Potomac Valley Hospital, said, “The VICU has proven to be an invaluable resource to our facility. He continued,
“Providers are able to discuss patient care one-on-one with intensivists at WVU Medicine with the simple click of a button. While data and numbers may reveal information about a patient’s illness, the hands on partnership with the WVU critical care team advances evidence based practice in the most crucial setting. This program allows the care team to share the decision-making processes and implement treatment and/or interventions quickly. In the past, this level of care could only be provided at larger tertiary facilities.”
One of the main goals of the pilot VICU program at Potomac Valley Hospital is to increase the capabilities of local hospitals so patients will be able to be treated closer to home and not have to be transferred to a larger facility. Being able to keep patients close to home aims to lessen the stress placed on families, as well as the patients.
“Potomac Valley Hospital is taking a major leap forward in both patient care and advancing the use of telemedicine. Being able to provide this high level of service to patients will allow them to receive intensive care services right here in their own community, and reduce the need to travel so far for care,” says Mark Boucot, president and CEO of Potomac Valley Hospital and Garrett Regional Medical Center. He continued, “It’s very important for me, as a healthcare leader in our community, to assure that the services we have available meet the highest standards of evidence-based patient care that each of us would want for our own family members. The hospital is working hard to improve and expand the access to those services for Mineral County and the surrounding communities.”