Luke Karkosh, director of enterprise architecture for Scripps information services, normally leads a team of 60 in the deployment and servicing of computers, phones, tablets and other such tools through the organization. While the goal has always been improving staff and patient communication, that’s all been amplified to meet the new needs of COVID-19 care.
“Since COVID-19, we have looked at how we can implement technologies in novel ways to better the experience for our patients in the hospital,” says Karkosh. The team’s priority today is on helping patients stay connected with their health care providers and with their loved ones during their hospital stay.
When COVID-19 patients are cared for in the hospital, they’re not allowed visitors due to the contagiousness of the virus. This can leave them feeling isolated, and alone and staff and patients were looking for other options. The answer? Karkosh and his team worked through the hurdles of securing hundreds of iPads and put them at COVID patient bedsides. Dozens more were donated by members of the community. The iPads allow patients to communicate via video, where they can see their friends and family and feel their support.
“When we decided to get iPads into the hands of patients, we started looking in area stores to get one or two at a time, but we really needed hundreds,” says Karkosh. “So when one of our partners notified us there was a shipment of iPads coming from China, we were able to obtain a few hundred to use at Scripps. It was a really great feeling to know we were directly impacting patient care.”
“It’s rewarding at the end of the day on my drive home to know that I did what I could to contribute to making things better during this pandemic.”
Since then, nursing staff say they have been moved to tears by video reunions via the iPads, and they are honored to help with end-of-life good-byes when those are necessary.
Of course, like other departments at Scripps, IT support for patient care didn’t stop there. Since care for COVID-19 began, information services teams have been addressing challenge after challenge with innovative, technological solutions. Easy-to use IV pole cameras, for example, make it simpler for doctors and nurses to talk with patients without having to don personal protective equipment and enter the room. The cameras help patients in the emergency department, intensive care unit or COVID unit maintain direct communication with their health care team, all at the touch of a button.
“It’s rewarding at the end of the day on my drive home to know that I did what I could to contribute to making things better during this pandemic,” says Karkosh. “This is why we are here — to make a difference in people’s lives and improve the patient experience, especially during this difficult time.”