Helping patients recover as safely and quickly as possible is a top priority in the intensive care units (ICUs) at Inland Valley and Rancho Springs Medical Centers. Our new collaboration with UCSD is advancing that goal by making board-certified intensivists available 24/7 to provide critical care and oversight.
Intensivists are doctors who are specially trained to care for critically ill patients. They do not take the place of a patient’s specialist; but they oversee care in the hospital ICU and manage vital aspects of treatment. They also have training in medical specialties such as surgery, trauma or pulmonary care.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE ALREADY
In the first several months that the intensivist program has been in place at Southwest, the ICU team has seen notable successes – such as patients spending less time on ventilators and shorter ICU stays, says Lindsay Mckenzie, RN, BSN, CCRN, Director of Critical Care Services at Inland Valley.
Along with overseeing round-the-clock care, intensivists also manage the admission and discharge of patients in the ICU. At Rancho Springs, intensivists have these privileges exclusively. They are therefore able to ensure that patients can progress out of the ICU as soon as possible. At Inland Valley, trauma doctors and neurosurgeons also have privileges to admit and discharge patients (see article on page 9 for more information about trauma care).
This “closed” admissions model, which restricts privileges to certain doctors who either specialize in ICU medicine or who routinely treat ICU patients, is very effective and can result in better outcomes for high-acuity patients, says Adnan Begovic, MD, of UCSD. “I think these two hospitals are experiencing that effect,” he says.
HELPING LOVED ONES, TOO
Having an intensivist available 24/7 can also be a valuable resource to patients’ loved ones, says Sarah Young, RN, BSN, CCRN, Director of Critical Care Services at Rancho Springs. The intensivist can answer questions and educate family members, so they can be a part of the patient’s plan of care.
At Inland Valley, the round-the-clock program was first implemented in May. At Rancho Springs, the program started in August; the intensivist is there in person from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and available via tele-ICU and/or in person when clinically necessary for the remaining hours. Using video conferencing, the intensivist can see the patient and family members and provide 24-hour support.
A TRUE TEAM EFFORT
“It’s been a really positive nursing satisfier to have intensivists here and readily available,” says Mckenzie. The intensivist can answer questions and direct care if a patient’s specialist is in a procedure or with another patient when timely decisions need to be made.
Regular consults between the intensivist and medical staff ensure that each patient’s individualized needs are met and support optimal recoveries. Dr. Begovic notes that this communication has been very positive. “There has been fantastic support from both sides,” he says.
He says the goal is to continue to build on the program and the collaboration with Southwest. “I am so pleased with how we have been welcomed,” he says.