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A hospital without beds

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A telemedicine center.

Here’s a look at  the Mercy Virtual Care Center, in the St. Louis suburb of Chesterfield.  Like other hospitals,   it  has nurses, doctors and a cafeteria, reports  Politico.  “{T}he staff spend their days looking after the very sick―checking their vital signs, recording notes, responding to orders and alarms, doing examinations and chatting with them”

But Mercy Virtual doesn’t have beds.

“Instead, doctors and nurses sit at carrels in front of monitors that include camera-eye views of the patients and their rooms, graphs of their blood chemicals and images of their lungs and limbs, and lists of problems that computer programs tell them to look out for. The nurses wear scrubs, but the scrubs are very, very clean. The patients are elsewhere.”

“Mercy Virtual is arguably the world’s most advanced example of something gaining momentum in the healthcare world: A virtual hospital, where specialists remotely care for patients at a distance. It’s the product of converging trends in healthcare, including hospital consolidation, advances in remote-monitoring technology and changes in the way medicine is paid for. The result is a strange mix of hospital and office: Instead of bright fluorescent lighting, beeping alarms and the smell of chlorine, Mercy Virtual Care has striped soft rugs, muted conversation and a fountain that spills out one drop a minute. The mess and the noise are on screens, visible in the hospital rooms the staffers peer into by video—in intensive-care units far away, where patients are struggling for their lives, or in the bedrooms of homebound patients, whose often-tenuous existence they track with wireless devices.”

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