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.”

NASA Astronaut Kjell Lindgren, MD to visit patients, colleagues at HCMC

NASA Astronaut Kjell Lindgren, MD

NASA Astronaut Kjell Lindgren, MD returned from his mission to the International Space Station in December, and now he’s returning to Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) for a visit – the Level I Trauma Center where he completed his emergency medicine residency. The NASA astronaut will meet with patients and staff on Wednesday, May 25, 2016.

Dr. Lindgren is a member of Expedition 44/45 and served as flight engineer aboard the International Space Station from July-December 2015. He has many colleagues and fans at HCMC who felt immense pride at seeing their colleague and friend fulfill his dreams of space travel – many who watched the launch live at the hospital on NASA TV on July 22, 2015.

“It was truly amazing,” says Dr. Douglas Brunette, who supervised Dr. Lindgren’s medical training in the Emergency Department where Dr. Lindgren was also Chief Resident. “Words can’t even describe how exciting it was to watch the launch, and then to follow Kjell’s experience while he worked on the Space Station. He’s an inspiration to us all.”

Dr. Brunette was invited by Dr. Lindgren to be his guest to watch the launch from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, and he chronicled the trip on hcmcnews.org.

“We are all eagerly anticipating his return ‘home’ to HCMC to tour his old stomping grounds and reconnect with friends,” Dr. Brunette explains. “Obviously we may think Minnesota is not as interesting as some of the other places he’s visited, but he’s so literally down-to-earth and appreciative of his training here at HCMC that he would probably disagree. We’re very proud of Kjell and look forward to the opportunity to see him again and learn about his experiences.”

He has a full schedule when he returns to Minnesota, but Dr. Lindgren will be available for photo opportunities and questions on Wednesday, May 25 from 2-3:30 PM while he visits areas in HCMC. Please contact Christine Hill, Sr. Media Relations Specialist at 612.873.5719 for more information.