We’ve recently added iPads to our Emergency Department and we’re distributing them to local ambulances to provide critical visual communications between first responders and ED providers. This was made possible by a grant from the Blandin Foundation and Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board. Fairview Range Emergency Department (ED) and Hibbing Fire Department (HFD) serve patients from all local clinics, including Fairview Range, Essentia, and St. Luke’s.
The overall goal of this implementation is to save lives that previously would have been lost due to non-visual communication. The Fairview Range Emergency Department now has two iPads and the Hibbing Fire Department will have six by the end of this week, with plans to also roll out 5 more iPads in total to the ambulance services in Nashwauk and Chisholm. Now, the ED can be better prepared when patients arrive.
“The Hibbing Fire Department has a never-ending goal of staying up on the latest evidence-based medicine. The iPad project assists in that goal,” says Matt Ashmore, Battalion Chief/EMS Director at the Hibbing Fire Department. “It can sometimes be difficult to paint a clear picture of how the patient appears and what care has been done for their illness or injury to the ED physician. In the case of a traumatic injury, providing a live video of the scene, the patient, and the current care they are receiving, the ED physician has the ability to talk with the Medics and the patient. It gives that physician direct patient care in the field much like they do in the hospital, along with the possibility of diverting that patient to higher medical care that is not provided in our area. It’s not for all patients and it will never take away from the immediate need of critical patient care.”
“Fairview Range has been a great partner organization for the Blandin Broadband Communities grant program,” says Vicki Hagberg, President of the Hibbing Area Chamber of Commerce. “The grant dollars used for the project were matched with a large in-kind contribution from Fairview, and that partnership is why we could leverage such an exciting program in our community. Connecting the Fairview Range Emergency Department to the local ambulance service will result in better health outcomes for our entire community. It’s cutting edge to link ambulances to the ER in this way, and our community will be stronger because of it.”
The ambulances were already equipped with WiFi, which helped make this project more achievable. We’re always looking for ways to save lives and strengthen communication between teams. Another benefit is that this technology will cut down on in-person interactions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This technology would be useful during any time,” says Jessica Valento, Director of Information and Technology Innovations. “But during a pandemic, it’s a useful communication tool that complements our other virtual care efforts, such as virtual provider visits.”
Although the iPads are just starting to be used, our team is eager to monitor the impact this will have on patient care. To track the outcomes, the hospital will survey the ED and HFD staff and follow-up on patients’ experience.
“Fast, reliable and affordable broadband access in northeastern Minnesota is an economic and public safety necessity, not a luxury,” says Mark Phillips, Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation commissioner. “Our health care systems, families, workers, businesses and senior citizens are using it like never before, especially during the recent months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our agency will continue to work to bring it to every acre and corner of northeastern Minnesota.”
“Blandin Foundation has been proud to partner with IRRR [Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation] in support of six Iron Range communities who recognize the importance of internet access for economic vitality and quality of life,” says Bernadine Joselyn, Director of Public Policy and Engagement at Blandin Foundation. “The timely addition of iPads in Hibbing emergency vehicles is a great example of how broadband-powered technology can improve, even save, lives. Congratulations to the local leaders who had the vision to carry out not just this project, but four others that will make a difference in their community. Your leadership matters!”