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Medical center hosts simulation

Staff photo by Gage Cureton Nurses, respiratory therapists and pediatricians at New Ulm Medical Center perform a tracheal intubation on an infant mannequin during a familiarization simulation for the clinic’s virtual care cart that allows medical staff to communicate with each other in real time via an audio-visual platform. Dr. Mark Bergeron, a neonatologist at Children’s Minnesota, and Lori Bishotski, a neonatal nurse practitioner, watch from the virtual care cart while they are in the Twin Cities.

NEW ULM — Nurses, respiratory therapists and pediatricians at New Ulm Medical Center’s birth center raced to restore the breathing of an infant born prematurely Tuesday as doctors and specialists watched from the Twin Cities via a virtual care cart.

Neonatologists and nurse practitioners from Children’s Minnesota watched and provided insight as a breathing tube was inserted into the rubber throat of an infant mannequin.

This medical emergency was just a simulation, as medical professionals at NUMC familiarized themselves with the birth center’s virtual care cart that’s a part of the clinic’s expanding telehealth program.

Judy Wenzel, Director of Telehealth at Children’s Minnesota, said the virtual care cart will improve regional physician and provider consultation as NUMC and Children’s Minnesota bolster their partnership. Medical professionals can talk with each other in real time — and even view patients via the camera on the cart.

“Historically, in situations like this the team in New Ulm would have gotten on the phone and talked with our neonatal nurse practitioners and our neonatologists in the Twin Cities at either the Children’s Minnesota St. Paul or Minneapolis NICUs,” Wenzel said. “We feel offering the ability to actually view the baby, they can provide better support than through a phone call.”

The virtual care cart allows hospital staff to connect with other medical professionals in real time via an audio-visual platform connected to the cart — sometimes as far away as across the country.

Director of Children’s Simulation Program Karen Mathias said telehealth resources such as the virtual care cart increase communication and can allow for quick consultation between providers and patients. During situations such as Tuesday’s simulation, physicians can decide if an infant needs extensive medical care and needs to be transported to a larger facility for care.

“Very sick babies would still need to be transported to another facility,” Mathias said. “But there are many babies that just need a little help through a difficult time and they can actually stay with their moms, which is of course what you really want.”

Wenzel said the virtual care cart “ups the game” for rural hospitals that may not have the medical resources needed to ensure adequate patient care

“That’s really the goal,” she said. “Just to support the local health care team in the care of these babies and keep the babies locally whenever possible.”

The virtual care cart is funded by the New Ulm Medical Center Foundation and birth center donors. Those who are interested in donating can contact the Foundation Office at NUMC at 507-217-5180.

Gage Cureton can be emailed at gcureton@nujournal.com.

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