NMHS connected care carts help COVID patients video chat with loved ones while isolated in hospital

TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) — On Tuesday, Northern Mississippi Health Services unveiled 10 connected care carts designed to allow COVID-19 patients to video chat with loved ones while undergoing treatment.

They deployed five more video carts Thursday at North Mississippi Medical Center Tupelo.

“As a doctor, I just felt this deep pain for patients who died alone,” says NMHS director of medical informatics, Dr Ben Kilman. “It was tragic.”

Throughout the pandemic, NMHS staff have been doing everything they can to help patients connect with friends and family while hospitalized with COVID.

“Often nurses saw this need and even felt compelled to use their own phones because they had a desire to help these patients,” says Dr. Kilman.

Nurse and telemedicine coordinator Leslie Gordon says she’s seen patients physically transform just by FaceTime with a loved one.

“You see their eyes shining and a smile on their face,” she says.

Gordon says it’s especially important for them to see their face without a mask.

“Because that’s what we’re used to,” she says. “I believe it helps healing.”

In 2021, the NMHS Health Care Foundation of North Mississippi applied for a $20,000 grant which it used to create the custom iPad screens. They received the Toyota Motor North America scholarship.

iPads are user-friendly and customized to only make outgoing FaceTime calls. All a nurse has to do is enter the phone number.

“Easily accessible, easy to move from room to room, easy to store, durable and easy to clean,” says Jenie Alice Bruce, annual giving manager for the Health Care Foundation.

Dr. Kilman says a patient’s emotional well-being is a crucial part of any treatment.

“Psychological health impacts everything,” he says. “If there’s depression, if there’s a feeling of isolation, a feeling of fear, that’s going to compound any physical complaints that we’re dealing with.”

Dr. Kilman says they will be rolling out the carts throughout the hospital system. He says their impact goes far beyond just treating COVID and will be available to all patients in the ICU or ER.

“Having critical care doctors being able to confer on a kid in Dallas and a kid in Tokyo and a brother in Jackson and a sister in Tupelo at the same time,” he says.

The Health Care Foundation is currently working to purchase more carts.

“They kind of forget where they are,” Gordon says. “For me, it feels like I’m back home talking to a family member again.”

Click here to donate to the Foundation.

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