Hennepin Healthcare physicians are pioneers in ultrasound technology

DSC_0679What’s going on in there? That’s the question healthcare providers ask every day. For nearly 40 years, emergency physicians at Hennepin Healthcare have relied on Point-Of-Care Ultrasound (POCUS) for these life-saving answers.

Hennepin Healthcare is one of the principal locations where the foundation for point-of-care ultrasound was developed in the United States. Back in 1985, HCMC emergency physician Dave Plummer, MD authored some of the earliest publications describing how his peers could use point-of-care ultrasound to improve patient care. In 1988 Dr. Plummer published a breakthrough article called “Principles of Emergency Ultrasound and Echocardiography,” describing how emergency physicians could use this technology to improve diagnostic accuracy and improve emergency management of critically ill and injured patients.

“In those early years, using ultrasound to assess trauma patients was revolutionary,” explains Dr. Plummer. “We realized the benefits of this technology and how it could safely identify internal structures as large as hearts and as small as arteries to inform diagnostic decisions. Today, the technology has vastly improved and so has the need – especially for our rural and underserved communities. This grant from the Helmsley Charitable Trust will help save lives.”

Dr. Rob Reardon is also a pioneer educator and leader in Hennepin Healthcare’s point-of-care ultrasound program, who, like Dr. Plummer, has authored numerous publications on its use. “Our success in this area really boils down to the need to quickly assess and treat life-threatening conditions in the context of a Level I Trauma Center,” he said.

Dr. Marc Martel, who, like Dr. Reardon, has worked full-time nights for more than 20 years in the Emergency Department at Hennepin Healthcare. “Point-Of-Care-Ultrasound is non-invasive, rapid and reliable. It has changed the way we diagnose and treat our patients in so many ways, and now we can’t imagine practicing without it,” said Dr. Martel.

On Tuesday, March 21, Dr. Reardon and Dr. Plummer, along with Tom Pahl, PA-C, an emergency medicine clinician at Glacial Ridge Health System in Glenwood Minnesota, participated in a news conference hosted at Hennepin Healthcare by the Helmsley Charitable Trust to announce grants to fund ultrasound imaging devices across Minnesota and train sonographers. All three, along with Dr. Martel, are esteemed instructors with High Quality Medical Education (HQMEDED), one of the programs that will be providing POCUS training across the state thanks to one of the teaching grants from the Helmsley Charitable Trust.

“We are grateful for this opportunity to connect with our partners throughout Minnesota,” said Dr. Plummer. “They already provide outstanding care for their patients, and with this technology, they can get that inside view that they didn’t have before. It will make a big difference in assessments, triage and management of care. It may even mean that we see less patients being transferred to our Level I Trauma Center. But that is better for patients, the people who love them, and in the end, promotes better healthcare outcomes in our communities.”

Hennepin Healthcare announces transfer of hospice services to Ecumen Hospice


Hennepin Healthcare and Ecumen are pleased to announce the transfer of Hennepin Healthcare’s at home hospice services to Ecumen Hospice in a collaboration that supports access to comprehensive hospice services for Hennepin Healthcare patients.

“As we focus on our acute care hospital and clinic system, our priority was to find a hospice organization with a shared mission to the patients we serve,” said Jennifer DeCubellis, Hennepin Healthcare CEO.  “This collaboration maintains access for our patients to the full array of end-of-life services and support, so they get the care and comfort they deserve at this critical phase in their journey.”

Ecumen Hospice is part of Ecumen—one of the nation’s leading nonprofit providers of housing and services for older adults. Ecumen’s life-honoring hospice care dates back three decades and continues with innovative ways to care for those it serves.

“This collaboration between our two organizations expands access to our outstanding and comprehensive hospice care for Hennepin Healthcare patients,” said Shelley Kendrick, Ecumen president and CEO. “Additionally, it furthers our mission with a goal of making this compassionate, patient-centered end-of-life care available to everyone who needs it, in their home or wherever they’re living – regardless of their ability to pay.”

Maintaining options for long-term care and hospice are important parts of the healthcare ecosystem. Hennepin Healthcare and Ecumen are committed to realizing solutions to the current compression and congestion in hospitals that is resulting in longer lengths of stay and limited access for patients who need higher levels of care.

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Tom Hayes, Hennepin Healthcare

Angie Andreson, Ecumen