Topeka hospital to add 100 nurses to virtual program

Topeka, Kan.-based Stormont Vail Hospital launched its virtual nurse program three years ago with 10 nurses. Now it is contracting with the company behind the system for 100 more, CBS affiliate WIBW reported Oct. 20.

The virtual nurse program is expanding to all medical and surgical units, covering roughly 250 beds.

Virtual nurses handle tasks such as admission paperwork and discharge instructions, and they can be a second set of eyes on patients and medications. Amy Cripe, RN, who manages the program, said the virtual nurses increase the time patients have with in-person nursing staff.

"The virtual nurses have been able to take a lot of the things that require a nurse to be stuck behind a computer, and they take that off of the bedside nurse's plate so that the bedside nurse can be there with the patient doing those hands-on tasks," Ms. Cripe said.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual nurses were able to provide checks on infected patients, saving time for nurses who otherwise had to wear full PPE to perform that task. 

"When these patients were in isolation and they were not allowed visitors, the only person they would see in their room without a mask was the virtual nurse," Ms. Cripe told WIBW.

The camera system makes a ringtone and lights up when active so patients know when it is on. The system is secure and interactions are not recorded to protect privacy, according to the report.

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