January 5, 2011

Harrington, UMass Offer Advanced Intensive Care Program in Southbridge

SOUTHBRIDGE, Mass., January 5, 2011 - Harrington Hospital has implemented a state-of-the-art monitoring system designed to improve support to patients in its Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Known as the eICU program, this advanced system supplements Harrington's ICU service, which is staffed by Harrington physicians, nurses and other medical staff specialists, with ICU staff from UMass Memorial Medical Center.

The eICU program allows UMass Memorial intensivists, who are physicians trained in Intensive Care, to monitor Harrington patients in real time, through use of voice, data and video monitoring. From the eICU Support Center at UMass Memorial, an intensivist can monitor a Harrington patient's vital signs, such as blood pressure, oxygen saturation and heart rate, displayed on computer screens. Other patient information readily available includes the approved care plan, physician notes, current medications, x-rays and recent test results. Any abnormality in a patient's vital signs is instantly sent over the eICU secure, high-speed data lines, prompting the intensivist to closely examine the situation.

The UMass intensivists, through the use of the two-way high-resolution video cameras with enhanced audio capabilities at the patient's bedside, can conduct a quick visual assessment of the patient and also interact directly with both the Harrington medical staff and the patient.

"The video cameras and monitors both here and at UMass allow the medical staff and the patients in the ICU at Harrington to see and to converse with the UMass intensivists, which allows for a more personal interaction between physician and patient," said Marsha Woodard, Nurse Manager of the Harrington ICU.

Having an advanced system such as eICU allows Harrington to use all available resources to care for patients with cutting-edge technology in a place they prefer to stay - their local community hospital.

"At Harrington, our mission is to provide Total Local Care," said Thomas Hijeck, Vice President of Nursing at Harrington. "The eICU program is an advancement that allows us to keep more care local and at improved quality."

Harrington's alliance with UMass Memorial Medical Center comes on the heels of a report by an independent health care think tank in Cambridge that estimates that 350 lives and $122 million would be saved each year if every hospital in the state adopted an eICU program. The report, by The New England Healthcare Institute, states that it takes approximately one year to recoup the investment made by a hospital in an eICU program. Keeping patients in their community hospital ICUs, under the oversight of the outside intensivists, instead of transferring them to another hospital, the report states, saves insurers, on average, $10,000 per patient.

UMass Memorial Medical Center started using eICU in 2006 and began offering eICU services in 2008 to UMass Memorial Health Care member hospitals. Harrington is the first hospital to join with UMass in the eICU program that is not part of the UMass Memorial Health Care organization.

Harrington Hospital is part of the Harrington HealthCare System.