NMHS Connected Care Carts help COVID patients video chat with loved ones while isolated in the hospital

TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) – Tuesday, North Mississippi Health Services unveiled 10 Connected Care carts designed to allow COVID-19 patients the opportunity to video chat with loved ones while undergoing treatment.

They deployed five more of the video carts Thursday at North Mississippi Medical Center Tupelo.

“As a physician, I have just felt this deep hurt over patients who have died alone,” says NMHS Chief Medical Informatics Officer Dr. Ben Kilman. “It’s been tragic.”

Throughout the pandemic, NMHS staff have been doing all they can to help patients communicate with friends and family while hospitalized with COVID.

“Often, nurses would see this need and feel compelled to even use their own phones because they had a desire to help those patients,” Dr. Kilman says.

Nurse and Telemedicine Coordinator Leslie Gordon says she’s seen patients physically transform just by FaceTimeing with a loved one.

“You see their eyes glow and a smile come up on their face,” she says.

Gordon says it’s especially important for them to see their face without a mask.

“Because that’s what we’re used to,” she says. “I believe that helps with the healing.”

In 2021, NMHS’s Health Care Foundation of North Mississippi applied for a $20,000 grant they used to create the customized iPad displays. They were awarded the grant by Toyota Motor North America.

The iPads are user-friendly and customized to only make outgoing FaceTime calls. All a nurse needs to do is enter the phone number.

“Easily accessible, easy to get from one room to the next, easy to store, durable and easy to clean,” says Jenie Alice Bruce, the annual giving officer for the Health Care Foundation.

Dr. Kilman says a patient’s emotional wellbeing is a crucial part of any treatment.

“The psychological health impacts everything,” he says. “If there’s depression, if there are feelings of isolation, feelings of fear, those are going to worsen all of the physical complaints that we’re treating.”

Dr. Kilman says they will be deploying the carts throughout the hospital system. He says their impact goes far beyond just treating COVID and will be available for all patients in the ICU or ER

“Having ICU doctors having the ability to conference in a child in Dallas and a child in Tokyo and a brother in Jackson and a sister in Tupelo at the same time,” he says.

The Health Care Foundation is currently working to purchase more of the carts.

“They kind of forget where they are,” Gordon says. “To me, it makes me feel like I’m back at home talking to my family member again.”

Click here to donate to the Foundation.

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