Virtual Hospitals: Doctors from a distance

U.S. & World

(NBC News)  Medical centers are launching innovative ways to treat coronavirus patients that keep beds open for the most critical cases and minimizing risk of exposure to health care workers.

They’re doctoring…from a distance. 
At Atrium Health’s COVID-19 virtual hospital in North Carolina, medical staff are treating hundreds of patients. 
“They get the ability to be taken care of where they’re most comfortable, which is their home,” says Dr. Stephanie Murphy.

Symptoms and vital signs are monitored daily, and in-home visits are arranged for more serious cases and treatments, like IVs and respiratory therapy.

Brandi Rabon was one of the virtual hospital’s first patients. 
“They called me every single day, and sometimes twice a day if I was feeling poorly to check on me,” she says.

More medical centers are turning toward forms of virtual care in an effort to conserve resources like hospital beds, masks, and gloves and limit staff exposure to the virus.

Marin Health Medical Center in Northern California has added two-way video screens to more than 90 rooms, including 10 intensive care unit beds.  

Nurses can check in as often as needed, with no personal protective equipment required. 
Medical centers are using the technology not just to check on the physical health of their patients, but also their mental health.  Many patients describe the virus as isolating, but this allows for conversations with providers, and even family members who can virtually visit hospital rooms.

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