Mayo Clinic in A.L. offers a new program for critically ill patients

Published 9:33 am Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Critically ill patients are benefiting from a new program designed to improve care and shorten hospital stays. Mayo Clinic’s Enhanced Critical Care program offers 24/7 remote monitoring of the sickest patients at six Mayo Clinic Health System hospitals.

“This program is a true partnership between Mayo Clinic Health System and Mayo Clinic in Rochester,” said Dr. Sean Caples, program medical director. “We’re teaming up to improve the already excellent care we provide.”

Patients will continue to receive care from local nurses and physicians. In addition, nurses and physicians in an operations center in Rochester will monitor patients’ vital signs and other health data on a computerized system able to detect subtle changes in a patient’s condition. Two-way televisions and video cameras will allow operations center staff to communicate with patients, their families and the care team.

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Enhanced Critical Care is available at Mayo Clinic Health System locations in Austin, Albert Lea, Fairmont, Mankato and Eau Claire and La Crosse, Wis.

“We continually look for ways to improve and be sure we are always providing the highest quality care and the enhanced critical care program provides another layer of care and strengthens our local critical care program,” said Nancy Christensen, director of nursing in Albert Lea. “The addition of the enhanced critical care program is exciting. It allows easy access to additional expertise and promotes collaboration to provide exceptional care to patients.”

Remote monitoring systems are in place at about 10 percent of all Intensive Care Unit beds in the United States. Such systems are often associated with improved care, lower costs and shorter hospital stays.

“This is a more proactive way to take care of patients,” Caples said. “The way we’re delivering care is changing, but our end goal remains the same: providing the best care possible to our patients. We’re taking advantage of new technology to help us do that.”

Christensen emphasizes that the enhanced critical care program is secure and private.

“Patients do not need to be concerned about the video equipment used for communication,” she said. “The patient is notified when the equipment will be turned on, just as patients are notified when their nurse knocks on the door before entering the room. There is no recording. The video is for the purpose of real-time direct communication with our team members in Rochester.”

The service is available at no additional cost to patients. More information about enhanced critical care is available online at