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Grande Ronde Hospital First in Nation to Use Robot for Echocardiogram Hospital Staff Vote on "Edgar" for Robot's Name

Hospital news | Monday, March 3, 2008
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Contact: Mardi Ford

Grande Ronde Hospital is the first hospital in the nation to have used a robot to allow a physician to observe a real-time echocardiogram, which is an ultrasound of the heart. The robot recently enabled a specialist in Boise to interview the patient at Grande Ronde Hospital. The patient's heart structure and function was assessed, and medication dosage was modified based on the clinical picture presented by the echocardiogram and the doctor's assessment of the patient. The echocardiogram provided multiple images and information such as force of contraction, valve appearance, blood flow and pressures. For several months now, the robot has rolled down the halls of Grande Ronde Hospital via remote control, improving patient care by bringing urban specialists to rural eastern Oregon. And finally, the robot has a name and his name is Edgar. Edgar is an acronym for Educated Doctor Guided Assisting Robot. The winning name was submitted by Pam Lenon, who works in the operating room at the hospital. More than 60 names for the robot were submitted -- from hospital staff, physicians, school children and city leaders - during a “name the robot” event. The hospital’s employee activities committee then narrowed the list down to the top 10 choices with five names appearing on the final ballot for hospital staff to vote on:

  • Aja (meaning to drive or propel in Indian)
  • Edgar (Educated Doctor Guided Assisting Robot)
  • Fred (Fast Response Exchange Device)
  • Scottie (inspired by Star Trek)
  • Tobar (robot spelled backwards)

    When Lenon first saw the robot she thought he "just looked like an Edgar", she says. And coming up with the words to make the name an acronym was easy, except for "guided" she says. Still, she didn't think the name would stick.

    Co-worker Kathy Hatley wasn't surprised that Edgar was the winning name. "I just knew that name was going to win," she says. The words that Edgar stands for made it the perfect moniker, she says. The two have worked together in the operating room for 21 years and both are excited by the new technology and how it will help patients as well as serve as a tool in training nurses.

    The robot's movements are controlled through a specially equipped laptop computer and joystick. Built in stethoscopes, microphones, and high-resolution camera lenses help consulting physicians diagnose a patient's condition, with the face of the consulting doctor visible via a flat-screen monitor on top of the robot. The physician or nurse operating the robot can not only consult with patients and colleagues in real time but even listen to heart and lung sounds

    The $200,000 robot comes to Grande Ronde Hospital free, courtesy of St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center. The Boise, ID., hospital accepted several robots as part of a grant awarded by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command. It now is collaborating with Grande Ronde Hospital and other medical facilities to "employ" the robots. The grant aims to utilize the new technology to assist with the training of operating room nurses.

    Edgar has already improved patient's access to health care in eastern Oregon by virtually connecting urban specialists to the hospital -- Grande Ronde Hospital physicians and respiratory therapists have used Edgar several times to consult with health specialists hundreds of miles from La Grande.