Ascension St. Vincent’s Chilton is now home to a tele-critical care and tele-stroke unit.
Ascension St. Vincent’s Chilton partners with UAB Medicine to bring a tele-critical care unit and tele-stroke unit to the residents of Chilton County. The new programs will allow patients to receive vital care closer to their homes, saving valuable time and extending much-needed services without compromising the quality of care.
The remote consultation sessions will take place from an operations center located at UAB Hospital. From the operations center, UAB specialists will connect via video into hospital rooms to conduct remote exams of patients and work with Ascension St. Vincent’s care teams to develop a treatment plan.
“We are very excited to partner with Ascension St. Vincent’s Chilton to implement a tele-critical care and tele-stroke program,” said Steve Stigler, M.D., associate professor of medicine in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, medical director of the UAB Medical Intensive Care Unit, and leader of the UAB Tele-ICU operations center. “These programs will allow us to support their ongoing commitment to quality patient outcomes in the communities they serve.”
The tele-critical care program will support Ascension St. Vincent’s Chilton hospitalists by allowing them to easily consult with intensivists at UAB. The UAB tele-critical care staff will review the patient’s medical records, conduct a virtual consult through state-of-the-art technology, and speak with and assess the patient. After the consult, they will work with the care team at Ascension St. Vincent’s Chilton to review the assessment and provide any treatment recommendations. UAB will continue to monitor the patient each day as needed while they remain in Ascension St. Vincent’s care.
“The tele-ICU program provides an extremely valuable service to our local community. We are able to bring the specialized knowledge of UAB critical care specialists to the bedside, providing the highest-quality care for critically ill patients,” said Sean Vanlandingham, M.D., chief medical officer, Ascension St. Vincent’s Chilton. “I am grateful to our local hospitalist physicians and the remote UAB intensivists who have partnered together seamlessly to make this program a success.”
When patients come to Ascension St. Vincent’s Chilton emergency department presenting with stroke-like symptoms, the team will utilize the tele-stroke program to request an on-demand stroke consult. One of UAB’s responding neurologists will assess the patient using the NIH stroke scale and a physical exam, assisted by the on-site emergency room physician or nurse. The neurologist will review the patient’s CT scans and provide a recommendation based on their assessment. Ascension St. Vincent’s Chilton will then provide inpatient care in their hospital or transfer the patient to the appropriate level of care that is needed.
Access to health care is limited in many of the state’s rural counties. Telemedicine programs like the tele-critical care and tele-stroke programs facilitate subspeciality care at rural sites, leading to an increase in access to care in rural areas across the state. Ascension St. Vincent’s Chilton is one of 10 hospitals to join UAB’s tele-critical care program and one of 20 hospitals to join the tele-stroke program.