Heart monitoring

Robert Henderson demonstrates how he uses a heart monitoring station at Banner Boswell Medical Center in Sun City. The stations operate remotely and allow technicians to monitor a total of 221 patients.

Dave Martinez/Daily News-Sun

Tucked away in an extra room on a patient floor in one of the towers of Banner Boswell Medical Center is a new heart monitoring station capable of keeping an eye on more than 200 patients.

Lorraine Gerraughty, the central monitor station manager, explained the new system not only allows the hospital to observe patients’ hearts, but it also gives those patients a little peace of mind and gives doctors and nurses real-time accounts of any issues.

The project was funded by Sun Health Foundation through community support of the “Technology Today for Your Tomorrow” campaign and features five machines that can monitor a total of 221 patients, including those who may not be in the hospital specifically for heart issues, but should still be watched.

Gerraughty said accurate measurements of each patient can be monitored, with technicians at each of the five stations checking for critical arrhythmias, which can be life threatening, as well as simple things such as heart rate and rhythm.

“Mostly what we’re looking for, other than critical arrhythmias, are changes from the patient’s base,” Gerraughty said.

Doctors and nurses can also view the monitors to look at specific patient information from their own units, connecting the system throughout the hospital.

Gerraughty said doctors or nurses can monitor side effects of medications in real time. If a nurse is administering a new medication to a patient, a tech at the central monitor station can watch for any changes, such as the effect one medication might have on another already being used by the patient.

“The number one difference is you have one person monitoring the system at all times,” Gerraughty said.

With someone dedicated to watching each patient, she said, changes can be spotted before they become critical but otherwise might not have triggered an alarm to doctors and nurses.

For monitor technician Robert Henderson, who will be one of the people watching for those changes, the stepped-up safety is the most important aspect.

“It’s going to put patient safety at the forefront,” he said.

While keeping an eye on an average of 44 to 48 patients’ heart monitors might sound intimidating, “once you get used to looking at it, you see things just because they’re out of place,” Gerraughty said.

For more information on ways to support Banner Boswell’s Cardiovascular Services program through Sun Health Foundation, visit www.SunHealthFoundation.org or call 623-876-5330.

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