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New Technology Links Eugene Hospital To Experts In Doernbecher Pediatric Intensive Care Unit

Doernbecher is the only hospital in the state with pediatric intensivists in house 24 hours day

A new partnership between Doernbecher Children’s Hospital and Sacred Heart Medical Center is linking some of the most critically ill pediatric cases with experienced intensivists in a matter of seconds, creating a virtual Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) in Eugene.

Eugene’s Sacred Heart Medical Center does not have the pediatric patient volume to sustain its own PICU 24 hours a day. Before this partnership, those patients in need of a pediatric intensivist were automatically transferred to Portland.  Now the hospital is bringing the expertise of pediatric intensivists at Portland’s Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, Oregon Health & Science University, to Sacred Heart via telemedicine, allowing many kids to stay closer to home for treatment.

The pilot partnership between SHMC’s Pediatrics and Adolescent Care Unit and the pediatric ICU at Doernbecher began in April. It’s the first such telemedicine project between OHSU and any hospital in the state. The program utilizes portable telemedicine cameras and monitors to access Doernbecher pediatric intensivists who are available around the clock to evaluate and interact with patients, and to consult “in person” with local physicians, nurses and therapists about challenging cases.

“We’re extraordinarily excited about the ability of telemedicine to improve the care of these children. Our ability to assess and recommend treatment is greatly enhanced when compared with the current telephone-only communication. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then live interactive video is truly priceless,” said Miles Ellenby, M.D., Doernbecher pediatric intensivist and assistant professor of pediatrics, OHSU School of Medicine.

Telemedicine also allows children to heal in a familiar environment, close to the support of friends and family. In addition, the technology helps parents avoid the expenses associated with transferring a child out of the area.

“The goal is to provide as much local care to local children as possible, said Pediatrics Manager Jill Burrell. “We can’t keep all kids here,” she said. “But if we can keep some of these children closer to home, under the watchful eyes of our doctors and the intensivists at Doernbecher, then we hope it will make life easier for our young patients as well as their parents and support system.”

Doernbecher Children's Hospital, an integral part of Oregon Health & Science University, is a world-class academic health center that each year cares for more than 56,000 patients from across the United States. In the most patient- and family-centered environment, children from all corners of the country receive outstanding cancer treatment, specialized neurology care, highly sophisticated heart surgery, and care in many other pediatric specialties. In addition to multiple locations in the Portland metropolitan area, Doernbecher's pediatric experts travel around Oregon and southwest Washington providing pediatric specialty care through 13 outreach clinics.

Sacred Heart Medical Center in Eugene, Ore., is the largest hospital between Portland and San Francisco (432 beds) and the only Level II trauma center in Lane County. Key services include a 32-bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the Oregon Heart & Vascular Institute, Oregon Neurosciences Institute with a Gamma Knife Center, Primary Stroke Center, Oregon Bariatric Center and Oregon Rehabilitation Center. Our high standards of care have drawn national honors including the Consumer Choice Award five years in a row.

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