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'Up Front' Podcast Takes You on a Trip to Atrium's Virtual Hospital

Feb 17, 2021 04:02PM ● By Jason Huddle

Episode 91: A Trip to the Virtual Hospital

Atrium Health has introduced a unique offering to the region - a virtual hospital! Host of this program, Jason Huddle, was recently a COVID patient in this program and this week we tell you all about it! Joining us on this episode are Dr. Jonisha Brown and paramedic, Scott Calloway. They are part of a team that is helping to revolutionize the way healthcare is being administered in this COVID world.

Jason Huddle  00:00

There's been a lot of talk lately about atrium Health's virtual hospital but what is it?


Dr. Jonisha Brown  00:05

Essentially, it's just like the hospital floor, we take care of patients who would normally be admitted to the hospital that don't necessarily need ICU care. But we can do everything that we typically would do on the floor of a hospital unit.


Jason Huddle  00:17

Today, we speak to two members of the virtual hospital team to talk about how it's being used today to treat COVID patients and how it might be used one day in the future.


Scott Calloway  00:26

You know, the word paramedic literally means beside the medic for the doctor. And I think this is a program where we're able to work hand in hand with each other and take care to the patients. And I think the possibilities and the types of illnesses that we can treat in the house are just numerous.


Jason Huddle  00:46

That's all coming up right now on Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine, a presentation of CabCo Media Group and sponsored by Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group, Concord Downtown Development Corporation, Geico Concord Mills office, Level Up Realty and New Hope Worship Center. I'm your host, Jason Huddle. Hello, and welcome my friends to yet another edition of Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine, Episode 91. Getting close to that 100 mark and we'll talk about that in a few weeks. But if you are a listener of this show, then you are aware that last month, I was completely out of commission, there were no shows in January, because I had COVID, I was in bed for a good part of the month. Now, I should be clear that not all my complications were directly from COVID. In fact, for my particular case, I got over the COVID part pretty easily. It was the fatigue and other things that COVID had exasperated, that caused me to be bedridden for a few weeks. But as part of that process, I was admitted to the virtual hospital at atrium. Now I had never heard of a virtual hospital. Before that day in the ER, when they told me they were going to admit me to it. But I was thrilled to hear about it. Because it meant that I didn't have to go to the actual hospital and be isolated away from my family and friends and those who support me. So when I was able to get through the process, one of the first things I did when I got back into my office was to contact atrium and ask these guys, Hey, can I get somebody from the virtual hospital team on because I want to educate the public on what this is, or even that it exists. It's very unique. This is not something that a lot of hospitals are doing all over the country. This is very unique to this area. And so I wanted to make sure we highlighted that. So we're gonna get to that today, right after shameless plug time. I call this segment shameless plug time, and we have included it in just about every episode of this podcast. And it is here for a very shameless purpose to promote what is going on with Cabarrus Magazine so I can let you know whether it be features or something going on on the website. Well, today I want to talk to you specifically about sponsorship, you see, this program is not free to produce and we need our sponsors in order to keep it going out to the public. This is a great opportunity for you business owners and managers to create awareness for your company by becoming a community sponsor at cabarrus What is the community sponsor you ask? Well, I'll tell you, a community sponsor is part of an exclusive group that have their hotlink logo on every page of our website bears They get sponsored content on the website every month, they have an ad on our website every day. And also they are part of a thank you ad that is in the printed version of the magazine each issue and most importantly, they become a sponsor of this program, which gives them a 30 second commercial to run during the course of the program mentions at the beginning and end of the program and also all the promotions and tags in social media that we can throw their way so so this is a great value. And we would love to talk to you about it. If you're interested in the community sponsorship, please contact us right away at 704-782-2353. They are industry exclusive, and there are only a limited number available. So please make sure that you contact us right away. So we can talk more about that and that is today's very shameless plug time. I do appreciate you all sitting through my one minute 40 second sales pitch. Some people from the Atrium virtual hospital are on next stay tuned.


Commercial  04:52



Jason Huddle  05:27

Welcome back to the program. As I mentioned at the top of the show, we are talking today about atriums virtual hospital. And I'm so excited about this offering that Atrium has because I was a patient. And they helped me get through COVID. So I wanted to bring on a couple members of the virtual hospital team Scott Calloway, he is a paramedic, and Dr. Jonisha Brown, she is with atrium health. Thank you both for being here today.


Dr. Jonisha Brown  05:58

Thank you so much. Glad to be here.


Jason Huddle  06:00

So let's talk about what the virtual hospital exactly is. And how it operates. I'll give it to I'll throw it up to either one of you that want to take that one.


Dr. Jonisha Brown  06:12

I guess I'll start. So the virtual hospital essentially a extension of the hospital that was created to hopefully help the availability that we had to service patients in the atrium system that started early in 2020. And essentially, it's just like the hospital floor, we take care of patients who would normally be admitted to the hospital that don't necessarily need ICU care. But we can do everything that we typically would do on the floor of a hospital unit.


Jason Huddle  06:39

Yeah and so Scott, how do you fit into that picture.


Scott Calloway  06:42

So I actually get the opportunity to go out and be the hands, the eyes, the ears of the doctors, actually, you know, do the in house care for each of these patients. And it gives us an opportunity to work as a pretty cohesive team to take care of each one of these patients and meet the needs that that they have through not only COVID, but other situations that arise.


Jason Huddle  07:08

So you show up at the house and you know, treat them in their bedrooms, right?


Scott Calloway  07:12

 Yes, sir.


Jason Huddle  07:13

And you are equipped to handle pretty much whatever comes up?


Scott Calloway  07:17

Yes, sir. Yes, we have a plethora of medications, cardiac monitor if need me, we're able to do the remdesivir infusions, and we're actually the only program in the nation that's been approved to do in house remdesivir infusions. There's just a number of things that we can do in house, we can draw the labs, that the doctor is older, we can do the COVID, testing blowers, all kinds of things in house.


Jason Huddle  07:46

And Dr. Brown, let me ask you, because now you're not going to the houses, you're talking via FaceTime, or whatever it is you guys use to the paramedics and to the patients. How do you feel like that works as opposed to walking into a hospital room and being able to talk to them face to face?


Dr. Jonisha Brown  08:07

Mmhm. Well, definitely, I'm just gonna piggyback on what Scott said. I mean, it's really, it relies very much on the paramedics helping us out every day, they really are. We work as a team, like Scott said. And in that sense, when you have that good connection between the paramedic and the provider, it's essentially the exact same as going into a brick and mortar hospital. So we use a virtual platform to be able to communicate with the patients by video. And sometimes you know, that depending on the day, the weather can be, you know, we'll we'll need a backup plan. So sometimes we even use a telephone call to do that. But aside from that, it pretty much is the same as me going to the hospital and knocking on a patient's door and going in the room and having a chat with them.


Jason Huddle  08:49

Now, you're not the only doctor, obviously. And Scott is not the only paramedic on the team. And so I remember as a patient, I actually talked to two different doctors depending on the day, and I had a different paramedic every day. I know that usually if I'm in a hospital room, I would have the same nurse or nurses depending on the shift. And so the same people seeing me, is there any kind of difficulty with different members of the team coming to see the same patient is that does that present a challenge at all?


Dr. Jonisha Brown  09:23

Not really, so typically in the hospital, depending upon when a patient comes in, you'll either catch a physician during their rotation. And so some of us might work seven days on seven days off or a different variation of that. So that's not very different and nurses have they change rooms per day as well. I will say with the paramedics it is pretty interesting. I like the fact that you don't get the same paramedic every day because it gives you a different view every day of what's going on with the patient. A lot of times the assessment like kind of like of what's going on in the home and everything is very congruent to the day before. But every now and then you'll have a paramedic that says, hey, you know what I, I saw this do you know, is that a big thing, or they might take a look at something else. And like one time I even had a paramedic who used to work at healthy at home who helps with, you know, physical therapy and occupational therapy. So she was able to add some different things in that the paramedic, but the day before. And so I think that's a really interesting component to it, because it's always good to have a new, refreshed new set of eyes. And I feel like sometimes we get that a little bit more in the virtual hospital than we would do in the hospital in a brick and mortar hospital because of that layer.


Jason Huddle  10:34

Yeah and speaking of paramedic Scott, I wanted to bring that up, because I'm glad Dr. Brown brought that up, as I understand it, the paramedics that work in the virtual hospital rotation, they are not green paramedics, they have been several some of them, that's for several decades. So tell me about that. And how that plays into you guys being able to treat these patients.


Scott Calloway  10:58

So yes, we got most of our people our 15 year plus experienced medics, some of them, like myself have been critical care certified. And we've got experience from, you know, a variety of different locations be at pre hospital emfs inter facility transport, some of them that have worked in the ER, we've got one now that just started with us that was an offshore medic. So yes, they come with a lot of background, and, and to Dr. Browns statement that with that experience, they're able to bring new things to light at each visit.


Jason Huddle  11:39

So let me just share a story before we go to break, I want to tell you guys that I can speak to that experience. When I was in the virtual hospital. I remember one day the paramedic took my vitals and he was looking at my numbers and he told my wife, he said, um, you know, he was getting ready to call the doctor and get her linked up. And he said, you know, according to his numbers, she's gonna do this, this and this. And he got her on the line. And And sure enough, she did exactly what he said she was gonna do. So they know what's coming. These paramedics have been around the block a couple times, right?


Scott Calloway  12:16



Jason Huddle  12:18

So what we're gonna do is I'm going to cut to break real quick. And when we come back, I want to talk about not only the uniqueness of this program, because it's not all over the country, and also what the future applications could be post COVID Is that cool?


Dr. Jonisha Brown  12:34

Sounds good, wonderful.


Jason Huddle  12:36

All right, you guys stay tuned we are with Scott Callaway and Dr. Jonisha Brown from Atrium Health, and they will be back with us in just a moment. Stick around.


Commercial  12:47



Jason Huddle  14:08

Welcome back to the program. Once again we are talking about the Atrium Health virtual hospital. This is where patients can go and actually go home and be treated in their home by medical professionals still talk to doctors are visited by paramedics every day. But they are able to do it with their family nearby and not in a hospital room which helps cut costs and also helps with the healing process. Which I want to talk to Dr. Brown about I know this is a relatively new program. But have we seen a correlation between people going into the virtual hospital and coming out of that being discharged from that may be a little quicker than some people who are admitted to an actual physical hospital.


Dr. Jonisha Brown  14:55

Well, you're definitely right in that it's so new and so in medicine, we are always hesitant to say that something is better than something else, when it's so new, we like to wait because the data shows us that to be certain and not to be biased. What we do know, you know, so far is that number one, it's not inferior to someone having treatment in a brick and mortar like typical hospital. And that I think the initial data has shown that actually the quality, the perception of that quality, the patient experience has been very satisfactory and higher than typical that you would see in a hospital setting, compared to other similar encounters. So that's what we know so far but yet, overall, the data is still out on it, it's still fairly new. And hopefully, in the next year or so we'll have some more guidance into how this actually fits into the future plans for healthcare.


Jason Huddle  15:43

Scott, let me pose the same question to you are realizing that, again, as Dr. Brown pointed out, there's no scientific data, I'm just going out for her observation, do you see where patients seem to be recovering faster?


Scott Calloway  15:58

You know, I think that, in my opinion, people that are able to go in and be in their own environment, around their family, or they can actually get outside of the room, instead of being quarantined into a hospital room, it keeps their spirits up a whole lot better, I think. And they seem, you know, when they're when they're able to be there with their family, and in many cases, they can't be with their family during the healing process or, or their time in quarantine. So I think that alone, and having that support group around them makes a huge difference.


Jason Huddle  16:34

I have to agree. In fact, just my own personal experience. When I first was admitted to the virtual hospital, the paramedic that first day, told me he said, Look, you're not getting out anytime before I think he said through the weekend, so it's gonna be about five days was his estimate that I would probably be in, I was out in three, I was discharged in three days. And actually, they asked if they could discharge me the night before. But because I was still feeling kind of if if he, I asked if I could stay in one more day, so I actually asked for the extra day. And I can tell you that having my family nearby, and just being able to be in my own bed, which let's face it, our own beds are always the best bed, no matter where you are in hospital or not. Our beds are always the best. And so being able to be in my own bed in my own room with my own family nearby, I can tell you for a fact that that helps me certainly helped my morale. And as you know, I'm sure Dr. Brown, when a patient's morale is up, that tends to help the healing process.


Dr. Jonisha Brown  17:45

Oh, yeah, for sure. And I mean, specifically, in this time of, you know, the COVID pandemic, like, like Scott alluded to, a lot of patients are fighting this fight without their family. And you know, it is it really makes such a huge difference. Even if they're quarantine in their home. I remember, one patient was telling me about how his, his family and his children in particular, would make his his meals and set them outside the door with a little note. And so he could kind of communicate with them kind of in that space, you know, even though they were still quarantining, and it really just brightens his morale even just talking about it. So that that is just amazing to see.


Jason Huddle  18:22

Yeah, I completely agree I have in our up to our master bedroom, we have some glass paned French doors, and my 10 year old daughter was able to come to the door and kind of wave at me and kisses and shoot notes under the, under the door. And that does a lot for you, it just kind of get your energy up that, hey, I've got I'm gonna get through this, I got to get through this. So that was great. Let's talk about what the future applications beyond COVID. I mean, and that's how this really came about was an opportunity to be able to treat COVID patients without filling up all the hospital beds, which is awesome. But at some point, God willing, we're going to come through this pandemic. And I wanted to ask you, Dr. Brown, do you think that the virtual hospital will continue? And what applications Could it be used for beyond? COVID?


Dr. Jonisha Brown  19:14

Mm hmm. Well, you know, we definitely had all this awesome technology just lying around before COVID. And it, you know, took someone like Stephanie Murphy, who is the physician who, you know, put this whole thing together, it was very instrumental in it to really see those pieces and, and use them in a way that we should have been using them in before COVID. But definitely, because it's working so well. And because of all the things that we've talked about how you know, the family can be more of a part of the healing process and how you know, the patient able to stay in their home. It makes sense that we would expand this to other areas and really, quite honestly, the virtual hospital would most likely be appropriate for anything that you could, you could treat on the floor, the basic floor of the hospital. So again, not ICU level care, you know, not anywhere near needing, you know, Those, those chairs that we provide such as you know, intubation or you know, very close monitoring every one to two hours, but something that's on the floor. So like, for instance, congestive heart failure exacerbations or COPD exacerbations, even, you know, really bad kidney infections that we call pyelonephritis. You know, those typical things where a patient staying, like you said, Jason, like every, you know, for maybe one to three days in the hospital, those things could potentially be treated in the home with virtual hospital.


Jason Huddle  20:27

That's incredible. Scott, do you think that this is a program that should and will continue? And are you wanting to continue to be a part of it?


Scott Calloway  20:36

Oh, absolutely. I think it's a great program. You know, the word paramedic literally means beside the the medic or the doctor. And I think this is a program where we're able to work hand in hand with each other and take that care to the patients. And I think the possibilities in the types of illnesses that we can treat in the house are just numerous. And I think it's it's a great program with a lot of potential, even some we haven't even tapped into yet. But I think there's just there's so much potential there.


Jason Huddle  21:08

That's great. Well, listen, you guys, I appreciate you being on today and telling us about the virtual hospital. You guys are doing a wonderful job. Just keep up the good work. Dr. Jonisha Brown and Scott Callaway, thank you very much for everything you're doing on the frontlines.You're our heroes.


Dr. Jonisha Brown  21:28

Thank you so much. Thank you for inviting us on.


Jason Huddle  21:30

Absolutely. You guys. Stay tuned. We will be back to close up the program in just a moment.


Commercial  21:36



Jason Huddle  22:21

Allow me once again to thank Dr. Jonisha Brown and Scott Callaway, two heroes of mine working on the front lines every day to help people get through COVID. And, of course, other things that they are dealing with. I hope you enjoyed this episode. And remember that this is available. If your doctor does not offer it, and you feel like you need it. Please make sure you ask about it. It is available to everyone in the Atrium system. So make sure you take advantage of that if you feel like you need it. A lot of people have asked me, Jason, now that you've had COVID, has your perspective changed? Honestly, no, it hasn't. I've never deviated from the stance that COVID is a very serious disease, and is certainly deadly to some people. I also keep perspective on the big picture that most people well over 99.6% will come through COVID just fine without a vaccine. But that doesn't make me say, well, we don't need a vaccine, or we don't need to do the things that we need to do in order to keep people from getting it. Because I can tell you that it was almost a blessing in disguise and that it exasperated things that were going on inside my body that I wasn't aware. And so because of COVID we became aware of those things, and now we're treating them and I'm going to be just fine. But my stance also has not changed, and that we have to keep living. We cannot keep living in fear and just shut ourselves in and hope that this thing goes away. That is not the answer either. Not that I pretend to have any of them. Next week, we will be talking with an old friend. That's come back sort of Dave Zablocki, who used to be the executive director at Habitat for Humanity and Cabarrus County has returned virtually to help in the interim because Habitat Cabarrus is looking for a new executive director. So all the way from Washington State he is helping to direct things in the meantime, and we're gonna be talking to him about what the needs for Habitat Cabarrus are and how in the world can he direct Habitat Cabarrus all the way from the west coast. We're gonna talk about all that next week. Until then, you have been listening to Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine is is presented by Cab Co Media Group and hosted and produced by yours truly Jason Huddle. We are sponsored by Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group, Concord Downtown Development Corporation. Geico, Concord Mills office, Level Up Realty and New Hope Worship Center. Until next week, stay virtual!

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