Central Monitoring department allows physicians to monitor patients in real time

HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital has recently introduced a new Central Monitoring department to remotely monitor patients with cardiac rhythms on the telemetry (cardiac) floor.  

The major goal of the Central Monitoring initiative is to improve patient safety by way of notifying changes sooner versus later and also to help decrease alerts. 

St. Elizabeth’s Nurse Manager of Central Monitoring Courtney Schwartzkopf MBA, MHA, RN, said that the hospital’s nursing staff still monitors patients heart rhythms on the floor and act accordingly to what they are seeing but the team in central monitoring are constantly looking for arrhythmia changes so they can better assist both patient and the nurse caring for them. 

“What the central monitoring techs role is that they are also monitoring behind the scenes kind of as a second level of patient safety,” Schwartzkopf, said. “They will contact the nurse if they see a patient’s rate of rhythm has changed or maybe the patient came off the monitor. They will call to notify the nurse aid or the nurse for more of a real time notification and connects the alert to the nurse’s inhouse direct communication devices or Vocera phones, as well.” 

The Central Monitoring department started at the beginning of October with set operational hours, and according to Schwartzkopf. 

“Our future goal is go be operational 24 hours, seven day a week,” she said. HSHS St. Elizabeth’s is actively looking for Central Monitoring techs. While experience is preferred, the hospital is willing to train and orientate “The colleagues that we have in that room at this point in time come with a couple of years of experience so we are really developing the program with them.”

Central Monitoring techs will also call the nurse to say that an alert coming through is accurate and making sure that the appropriate person is going to check on the patient. 

“One of the things we are stressing in the department is if we see the patient off the monitor, we call to let the nurse aid know. We know they are getting alerted on their phone and therefore we have a policy in place on when to call again,” 

The hospital plans to continuously evaluate what changes can be made to grow and expand.

Schwartzkopf said that currently the Central Monitoring department is only monitoring cardiac patients but in the future, it could be expanded to patients recovering after surgery, ICU patients and ER patients. 

She noted that in the future, she would like the program to expand and for techs to have a more “hands-on” approach to further patient understanding of how the monitoring system is an added benefit and make a personal connection with the patient whom they will be caring for.

Schwartzkopf said that Central Monitoring revolves around “patient centered care.”

“This is a new, exciting time – not many places have true central monitoring. It’s kind of new and upcoming for us – especially on this side of the river.”