Dr. Daniel Wong

Monitors give voice to vital signs

“It’s amazing how far technology has come and how a few improvements can ... directly save lives,” foundation chair Rod Dewar said.

Walking into the Royal Jubilee emergency room last Easter, Robert Modrow thought little of his chest pain.

The active 69-year-old had been to his family doctor and tests showed nothing was wrong. Emergency room doctors were just going to take an angiogram picture of blood vessels in his chest.

But his heart stopped on the way to the operating room. He woke up a week later in a hospital bed with no idea what had happened.

“I had black and blue bruises on my chest where defibrillators had been used to restart my heart,” Modrow recalled last week.

He had an incision in his chest for a pacemaker, and learned he’d had bypass surgery.

His wife counted 16 tubes for fluids going in and out of him.

He was also connected to a vital signs monitor with electrodes measuring his heart and respiratory rates, blood pressure and other vitals.

These monitors used to be shared between patients as they became available, but in the new Patient Care Centre at RJH the goal is to have one in every patient room, thanks to the Victoria Hospitals Foundation fall fundraising campaign.

The campaign seeks to raise $595,000 to buy 94 vital-signs monitors for the care centre.

“It’s amazing how far technology has come and how a few improvements can not only make an impact on patient care and outcomes but directly save lives,” foundation chair Rod Dewar said.

Dr. Daniel Wong, director of heart health for Vancouver Island Health Authority, compared the monitors to having a member of the medical team in a patient’s room at all times.

“They’re connected into the wireless communications systems that we carry, so if something changes with a patient’s vitals it immediately notifies us,” Wong said. “If we’re adjusting medication or a pacemaker, we can see what effect its having instantly on the screen.”

The monitors will be used in heart health and general surgery units, where an estimated 4,000 patients will be hooked into them each year.

Modrow, who has completed his cardiac rehabilitation and is now in good health, said being attached to the monitor helped him relax during his time in the hospital.

“When you’re lying there you’re totally dependent on all these people and you don’t quite know what happened – you’re overwhelmed,” he said. “It was enormously comforting knowing I could drift off to sleep and the monitor would be my voice connecting me to my caregivers, and it would let them know if anything went wrong.”

To donate to foundation’s fall campaign, call 250-519-1750 or visit victoriahf.ca.

Funds raised through the foundation’s annual Visions gala, Nov. 19 at the Fairmont Empress, will also benefit this campaign.

editor@saanichnews.com

Saving lives

• Monitors display digital vital signs data on a colour touchscreen located beside a patient’s bed.

• Healthcare providers have mobile devices to view the vital signs data wherever they are in the unit.

• An alarm will alert doctors of a major change in a patient’s vital signs.

• Live health data is stored in the monitor for 48 hours, and can be transferred and saved in a patient’s electronic records.

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