American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN)

Atrium Health Tele-ICU Evolves to Meet COVID-19 Challenges

Article in Critical Care Nurse details how Atrium Health’s virtual critical care unit supported bedside colleagues, while reducing exposure time and conserving personal protective equipment.

Newswise — Atrium Health’s tele-ICU is a key element in the North Carolina health system's strategy to address challenges of providing care for patients with COVID-19.

The pandemic has not only highlighted existing nursing shortages but also created unique concerns of its own, as surge planning strains already stretched staffing resources. In addition, the nursing profession grew especially concerned about the health and safety of its workforce, specifically the consistent availability of critical care nurses and sufficient supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) throughout the pandemic.

Answering the Call: Impact of Tele-ICU Nurses During the COVID-19 Pandemic” describes how Atrium Health’s tele-ICU quickly adjusted its patient-centered focus to include supporting and protecting bedside nurses caring for patients in isolation, as part of the system’s planning and preparations for the pandemic. The article is published in the August issue of Critical Care Nurse (CCN).

The virtual critical care unit (VCC) has been providing tele-ICU care in Atrium Health’s network of hospitals and ICUs across the Carolinas since 2013. The VCC uses real-time, two-way audio and high-definition video communication to hundreds of critical care beds and via mobile carts in two emergency departments in the health system. The VCC team has more than 80 board-certified tele-intensivists and 40 board-certified critical care nurses.

“We modified workflows, deployed home workstations and changed staffing models with the goal of providing additional clinical support to bedside colleagues while reducing exposure time and conserving PPE,” said co-author and VCC program coordinator Sandy Arneson, MSN, RN, CCRN-E. “VCC capabilities facilitate both a high level of care for patients and protection for frontline providers.”

As part of the system’s surge preparations, VCC coverage was quickly expanded to the facilities that were first to admit patients diagnosed with COVID-19. At these facilities, the VCC expansion enabled conversion of existing hospital beds to critical care beds, more than doubling capacity for ICU-level care.

The infrastructure expansion included deploying telemedicine mobile carts throughout the system. Many non-VCC providers were granted access to its tele-ICU software to facilitate team-based care of patients with COVID-19, and handheld tablets were distributed to increase family-centered visitation and virtual communication.

To assure consistent coverage in the event of required quarantine or exposure, a team of VCC nurses, as well as members of the VCC operational and leadership team received home workstations with laptops and additional monitors.

Workflow modifications help reduce time spent in isolation rooms and thereby reduce the risk of exposure for frontline caregivers.

The COVID-19 pandemic had the potential to exacerbate any staffing challenges, and the VCC team provided an additional layer of clinical support to nurses at the bedside. At the push of a button, bedside clinicians had immediate access to experienced ICU nursing support.

This ease of access also gave bedside nurses peace of mind, knowing that changes in a patient’s status would be brought to their attention quickly, even when they were not in the same room. For example, a VCC nurse could perform clinical documentation while the bedside ICU nurse conducted a physical patient assessment, a task which could be challenging in full PPE.

As the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses’ (AACN) bimonthly clinical practice journal for acute and critical care nurses, CCN is a trusted source of information related to the bedside care of critically and acutely ill patients.

The article is part of AACN’s growing library of clinical resources related to caring for critically ill patients with COVID-19, including a free self-paced course, “COVID-19 Pulmonary, ARDS and Ventilator Resources.” The COVID-19 resources also include free pocket cards, webinars, procedure manual excerpts and journal articles.

Access the article abstract and full-text PDF by visiting the CCN website at

About Critical Care Nurse: Critical Care Nurse (CCN), a bimonthly clinical practice journal published by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, provides current, relevant and useful information about the bedside care of critically and acutely ill patients. The award-winning journal also offers columns on traditional and emerging issues across the spectrum of critical care, keeping critical care nurses informed on topics that affect their practice in acute, progressive and critical care settings. CCN enjoys a circulation of more than 120,000 and can be accessed at

About the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses: For more than 50 years, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) has been dedicated to acute and critical care nursing excellence. The organization’s vision is to create a healthcare system driven by the needs of patients and their families in which acute and critical care nurses make their optimal contribution. AACN is the world's largest specialty nursing organization, with more than 120,000 members and over 200 chapters in the United States.

American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, 27071 Aliso Creek Road, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656; 949-362-2000;;;



Filters close

Showing results

1120 of 3765
Newswise: Research Team Discovers the Molecular Processes in Kidney Cells That Attract and Feed COVID-19
Released: 23-Oct-2020 10:40 AM EDT
Research Team Discovers the Molecular Processes in Kidney Cells That Attract and Feed COVID-19
Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan

What about the kidneys make them a hotspot for COVID-19’s cytokine storm? A research team says it’s the presence of a protein found on specialized renal transport cells.

access_time Embargo lifts in 2 days
Embargo will expire: 27-Oct-2020 11:00 AM EDT Released to reporters: 23-Oct-2020 8:25 AM EDT

A reporter's PressPass is required to access this story until the embargo expires on 27-Oct-2020 11:00 AM EDT The Newswise PressPass gives verified journalists access to embargoed stories. Please log in to complete a presspass application. If you have not yet registered, please Register. When you fill out the registration form, please identify yourself as a reporter in order to advance to the presspass application form.

Newswise: New Landmark Study at UM School of Medicine Finds Aspirin Use Reduces Risk of Death in Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients
Released: 22-Oct-2020 2:40 PM EDT
New Landmark Study at UM School of Medicine Finds Aspirin Use Reduces Risk of Death in Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients
University of Maryland Medical Center

Hospitalized COVID-19 patients who were taking a daily low-dose aspirin to protect against cardiovascular disease had a significantly lower risk of complications and death compared to those who were not taking aspirin, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM).

Released: 22-Oct-2020 2:25 PM EDT
Tocilizumab doesn't ease symptoms or prevent death in moderately ill COVID-19 inpatients
Massachusetts General Hospital

The drug tocilizumab (Actemra) does not reduce the need for breathing assistance with mechanical ventilation or prevent death in moderately ill hospitalized patients with COVID-19, according to a new study led by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).

Released: 22-Oct-2020 2:10 PM EDT
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that nursing homes "never needed" to accept patients who tested positive for COVID-19, but they did accept them

According to a report from the New York State Department of Health, "6,326 COVID-positive residents were admitted to [nursing home] facilities" following Cuomo's mandate that nursing homes accept the readmission of COVID-positive patients from hospitals. Therefore we rate his claim as false.

Released: 22-Oct-2020 2:10 PM EDT
U of M trial shows hydroxychloroquine does not prevent COVID-19 in health care workers
University of Minnesota

University of Minnesota Medical School physician researchers studied hydroxychloroquine as a treatment to prevent COVID-19 for those with high-risk for exposure to the virus - health care workers.

Newswise: UNLV Physician: Why COVID-19 Makes Flu Shots More Important Than Ever
Released: 22-Oct-2020 1:50 PM EDT
UNLV Physician: Why COVID-19 Makes Flu Shots More Important Than Ever
University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV)

As the race for a COVID-19 vaccine intensifies, health care officials are reminding the public not to forget another important vaccine this fall: the flu shot. Flu season in the U.S. technically began in September, with illnesses expected to peak in December and February, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Less than half of Americans received a flu vaccine during the 2019-2020 flu season, and a staggering 405,000 hospitalizations and 22,000 deaths were attributed to influenza.

Newswise: 246630_web.jpg
Released: 22-Oct-2020 1:45 PM EDT
Immune response the probable underlying cause of neural damage in COVID-19
University of Gothenburg

It is probably the immune response to, rather than the virus in itself, that causes sudden confusion and other symptoms from the nervous system in some patients with COVID-19. This is shown by a study of cases involving six Swedish patients, now published in the journal Neurology.

Released: 22-Oct-2020 1:35 PM EDT
COVID-19 study: Meaning in life and self-control protect against stress
University of Innsbruck

Numerous studies over the last few weeks have pointed out that the effects of the Corona pandemic on people's mental health can be enormous and affect large parts of the population.

Newswise: Hackensack Meridian CDI, University of Michigan Demonstrate Better, Faster COVID-19 Antibody Testing
Released: 22-Oct-2020 1:30 PM EDT
Hackensack Meridian CDI, University of Michigan Demonstrate Better, Faster COVID-19 Antibody Testing
Hackensack Meridian Health

A new portable “lab on a chip,” developed by the U-M scientists and demonstrated with help of the CDI, can identify the presence of COVID-19 antibodies in blood donors with greater speed and efficiency

Showing results

1120 of 3765