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Virtual anesthesia response team is ready to help during crisis event

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. ― Mayo Clinic Health System recently launched the anesthesia response team (ART) at critical access hospitals in Barron, Bloomer, Cannon Falls, Fairmont, Lake City, Menomonie, New Prague and Sparta.

Anesthesia-related emergencies are rare, but the team is ready just in case. If a patient experiences a crisis while under anesthesia, the local certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) managing the case can contact a Mayo Clinic anesthesiologist in Rochester using real-time, on-demand video technology. The anesthesiologist will provide virtual aid in diagnosis and offer guidance and support while the on-site CRNA performs the skills required for care.

ART is a tool that helps provide a higher level of specialized healthcare in rural community hospitals while keeping patients close to home.

Sandy Kopp, M.D.

"We know it is very difficult to recruit specialists to smaller community hospitals," says Sandy Kopp, M.D., division chair of anesthesiology in Rochester. "With this program, we can have the same resources in the smaller hospitals as Rochester without the specialists working there."

Kopp notes that critical access hospitals do not have many emergency situations because they only accept cases appropriate for the level of care typically provided there. If consultation regarding an upcoming case is needed, the anesthesiologists in Eau Claire, La Crosse, Mankato and Rochester, where cases are much more complex, share their expertise with the smaller hospitals.

"We've equipped all the operating rooms in Mayo Clinic Health System with the same supplies, monitors and anesthesia machines that we use in Rochester," said Marlea Judd, certified registered nurse anesthetist director in Rochester. "The equipment is the same because we want the same quality care wherever you receive anesthesia care. That similarity makes an ART activation even safer, as the anesthesiologist has firsthand knowledge of the equipment when they guide the CRNA during a crisis."

As with any new technology, staff have received training and have participated in simulations, so they will be confident should the need arise to use ART.

"We’ve collaborated with the entire surgical team," continues Judd. "We’ve done on-site training and tested the system with the Mayo Clinic anesthesiologists, so everyone could see what it would look like in a real scenario."

Go to the Anesthesiology Services page at to watch a video to learn more about ART.

About Mayo Clinic Health System

Mayo Clinic Health System has a physical presence in 44 communities and consists of 53 clinics, 16 hospitals and other facilities that serve the healthcare needs of people in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The community-based healthcare professionals, paired with the resources and expertise of Mayo Clinic, enable patients in the region to receive the highest-quality physical and virtual healthcare close to home.

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