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Partnership among coastal hospitals, OHSU receives federal funding

The Connected Coast Virtual ICU connects local physicians to OHSU’s critical care team
A virtual health program facilitator looks at documents and screens to analyze a patient's information over the computer.
New federal funding will improve community health partnerships and virtual care for OHSU and other hospitals on the Oregon coast. (OHSU)

A federal spending bill, signed into law last week by President Joe Biden, includes funding for an innovative partnership among Columbia Memorial Hospital in Astoria, Bay Area Hospital in Coos Bay, and Oregon Health & Science University.

The Connected Coast Virtual ICU received $943,000 in the federal budget. The program connects local physicians to OHSU’s critical care team, facilitates the continuous virtual monitoring of patient vital signs, and provides support tools for clinical decision-making and analytics that can improve patient care outcomes.

Joe Ness, M.H.A., BSPharm, is a person with no hair, glasses, and a suit, smiling.
Joe Ness, M.H.A., BSPharm (OHSU)

“The Connected Coast Virtual ICU project will extend OHSU’s critical care expertise to patients across Oregon,” says Joe Ness, M.H.A., BSPharm., senior vice president and chief operating officer at OHSU Health. “This federal investment will strengthen the capacity of community hospitals to care for critically ill patients, while allowing those patients to stay in their communities. We thank Senator Merkley and Senator Wyden for advocating for this funding and their support of accessible health care.”

“Events over the past two years have accentuated the importance of building critical care capacity in local communities,” says Brian Moore, President and CEO of Bay Area Hospital. “This partnership with OHSU enables Bay Area Hospital to provide patients with the care they need while keeping them close to their support systems and those they love. This support from Senator Merkley and Senator Wyden will make a real difference for people living on Oregon’s South Coast.”

“We’ve benefitted from collaborating with OHSU through their tele-intensivist consult model over the past year-and-a-half,” say Judy Geiger, vice president of patient care services, and Chris Strear, M.D., chief medical officer, at Columbia Memorial Hospital. “This service has allowed us to take care of patients that we previously would have had to transfer out. The Virtual ICU is the next generation of intensive care collaboration and can enable us to help not just those patients in our own community, but also some of the sickest patients along the Oregon Coast.”

In pursuing the funding, the hospitals received letters of support from up and down the Oregon Coast: from the Clatsop County Board of Commissioners, Coos Bay Mayor Joe Benetti, and North Bend Mayor Jessica Engelke.

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