Cardiac monitoring cubes improving patient care

Hospital personnel pose for a photo with one of the cardiac monitoring cubes in emergency. L-R: assistant head nurse Jamie Havanka, RN Melanie Dudar, Dr. Gregory Sawisky and RN Cindy Bonnett. Photos by Emily Jaycox
The two screens located at the front desk in emergency display vitals signs of four patients at a time.
One of the monitors on standby mode, ready and waiting.
A wall mount for a cardiac cube. The easily dismount-able cubes allow for greater flexibility of use.

The new Centralized Cardiac Monitoring System has been up and running at the Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre (PHCC) for a couple of months now, and has significantly improved patient care.

“It’s a vital piece of equipment for us and the patients,” said assistant head nurse Jamie Havanka.

The $100,000 price tag to implement the system was donated by the Ponoka and District Health Foundation, with the funds being raised through the 2019 Festival of Trees.

READ MORE: Ponoka hospital will begin purchasing heart monitoring cubes

According to Carol Wild, PHCC area manager, the system is manufactured by Spacelabs Healthcare, and uses state-of-the-art technology.

Spacelabs are pioneers in real-time telemetry, dating back to 1958. The company began working with the U.S. Air Force and NASA and became the main contractor to NASA for the historic Gemini and Apollo missions, monitoring the vital signs of Ed White’s Gemini IV spacewalk and Neil Armstrong’s first step on the moon (spacelabshealthcare.com).

After the components arrived, Spacelabs held a webinar demonstrating how the system works for the hospital staff, and it has been in use for several weeks now.

There are now two central screens at the front desk in emergency, as well as four new cubes in the department.

That means four patients’ vitals and cardiac rhythms can be monitored at the same time. If vitals rise to unsafe parameters, alarms go off, alerting medical personnel.

The cubes are mounted on the walls, and can be easily dismounted if staff want to move them to another location.

The centralized cardiac monitoring system also allows medical personnel to look back at previous vitals as data is saved for 72 hours.

This can help identify if a patient’s condition has been deteriorating over time.

The system also makes it easier to send information to other physicians at other locations, such as Red Deer. It’s currently part of “Clinic Access,” and eventually should connect to a province-wide data sharing system called “Connect Care.”

Connect Care was due to roll out months ago, but there have been delays, says Havanka.

The hospital also has cardiac monitoring cubes, located in the OR and labour and delivery, but they are older and in need of replacement.

“We’re very pleased with what we have and we hope one day to expand [the system] in the future,” said Melanie Dudar, RN.

According to RN Cindy Bonnett, the monitors make it easier during night shifts when there’s only one or two staff, as they can monitor all the patient’s vitals from the front desk.

“We’re grateful to Festival of Trees and the foundation,” said Havanka.

“Without them it wouldn’t have happened.”

READ MORE: 2020 Festival of Trees will not go on

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