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Armstrong Supports Regional Care through Connected Care Center

Armstrong Supports Regional Care through Connected Care Center

I really enjoy the challenge of figuring new things out and finding the best ways to achieve the outcomes we’re trying to achieve.

Kevin Armstrong

When Kevin Armstrong, DNP, APRN, AGACNP-BC, NE-BC, saw earlier this year that Dartmouth-Hitchcock (D-H) was seeking a clinical nursing director for its new Connected Care Center, it seemed serendipitous. “It’s not only what I studied these last two years at Vanderbilt, but it also fits my career trajectory,” says the Ontario, Canada native, who started his new role on August 3. “This position is a nice convergence of my clinical operations background and my academic interests. It’s pretty amazing.”

Armstrong worked at D-H from 2005 through 2010 as director of the Emergency Department and as a project manager for the Outpatient Surgery Center. He also worked on the proposed third inpatient tower, which D-H ultimately decided not to build, and on such operational projects as setting up the Nursing Flex Team. He then departed to direct the Children’s Hospital of Michigan’s Emergency Department, and from there he went to Lawrence and Memorial Hospital in Connecticut, where he served as director of Emergency Services and assistant chief nursing officer. In December 2013, he earned a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), and then in August 2015 completed his post-masters certificate in Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, both at Vanderbilt University.

Shaping the Connected Care Center

Armstrong will now be taking his clinical operations background, as well as what he learned about population health and the clinical application of health care research at Vanderbilt, and applying it to the Connected Care Center. The Connected Care Center is home to the Center for Telehealth, the Transfer Center team and DHART Transport Communications Operations. This one-stop solution center for acute care opened in October on the third floor of the Williamson Translational Research Building.

“The Connected Care Center is probably best described as the brainstem or nerve center of a coordinated delivery across multiple organizations in a regional system,” Armstrong says. “It has a huge population health implication and, because of that, it’s a key part of what Dr. Weinstein is envisioning for a regional system.”

Armstrong is currently involved in helping to launch several new D-H telehealth services that will improve regional care, including TeleEmergency, TeleIntensive Care and TelePharmacy. TeleEmergency will be rolled out in the coming weeks at DHMC and then will start at New London and Mt. Ascutney this winter. It will enable these and other subscribing hospitals to have round-the-clock, two-way video access to board-certified emergency physicians and nurses.

“TeleEmergency will be a great service for community and Critical Access Hospitals. It can be used in a variety of ways, such as to help document the care the bedside clinicians are providing, or to help stabilize a trauma patient before they begin the process of transferring the patient if a higher level care facility is needed,” Armstrong says.

Armstrong notes that by having the Center for Telehealth, the Transfer Center and DHART together in the Connected Care Center, “we can start the process of transferring and transporting the patients sooner, if necessary. We can also connect patients to specialty consults in a more robust way than currently happens over the phone. We have a lot of skills in the Lebanon campus and usually for a patient to access that they have to physically come here. But the region may be better served by having them seen virtually, potentially saving many patients a long drive.”

Supporting regional health care

He adds that regional health care will also be aided by a regional bed board, which is innovative bed management software being developed for the Connected Care Center. “A regional system is dependent on a tool like this because it will enable us to monitor available acute-care beds across the system,” Armstrong says. “If we’re truly going to deliver health care differently than the traditional silos, then you need real-time knowledge and awareness of regional resources.”

Armstrong says he and his wife Nicole Armstrong, RN, a staff nurse in Orthopaedics, are delighted to be back at D-H, working with many old friends and colleagues again. Armstrong is also excited to be in his new role, “working to find solutions and bring improvement to health care.”

“I think it’s possible to realize D-H’s Imagine vision,” he says, “to improve the quality of patient care, customer service, and the satisfaction of health care providers all while doing so more efficiently and cost effectively. I’m really pleased to be a part of this work at D-H and in the Connected Care Center.”