McCreery ’20 Monitors COVID Patients in One-of-a-Kind Virtual Response Center

By Caitlin Burns | February 16, 2021

As hospitals continue to combat COVID-19, Political Science graduate Steven McCreery ’20 has taken on a unique role as a virtual monitoring tech for St. Luke’s University Health Network in their virtual response center in Allentown, Pa.

With the center’s opening on Dec. 19, McCreery is among the first 14 recent college graduates and students to be hired to help remotely monitor COVID-19 patients at St. Luke’s University Health Network’s eight locations. St. Luke’s is the first network in the country to institute this remote monitoring system, Masimo Patient SafetyNet wireless devices.

“The COVID patients wear a finger sensor that connects to their wrist and runs up their arm,” said McCreery, who regularly monitors 50 to 80 patients per shift. “The device monitors vital signs like their pulse, oxygen levels, and respiration, and that data is transmitted through an app to a dashboard that I watch at the center. We are all connected using a [private] text network. From there I can see who the nurses are covering that patient. I would send a notification via that service if the vitals go out of range. If I don’t get a response, I notify that unit in the hospital.”

McCreery said that the job was challenging to adapt to at first with the monitoring services’ many procedures, he notes how rewarding it is when he sees someone’s vitals normalize.  

“It’s a really great opportunity,” said McCreery. “That this technology is even there is really cool. The fact that we can directly monitor a patient across the state or in New Jersey who’s wearing this sensor is awesome. I’m happy to be able to help in this crisis.”

More than just monitoring patients, McCreery also walks nurses through setting up the devices on new patients and troubleshooting any problems nurses may have.  

“It can be a bit worrying sometimes because patients’ devices go off, we’re not seeing their vitals, and I’m trying to figure out what’s wrong with it across a phone call, which can be difficult,” McCreery said. 

McCreery hopes to have a future in a healthcare technology-related field where his Political Science degree can help him analyze data and conduct research. 

“I think that how health care technology and the rate that it’s advancing are very interesting,” said McCreery. “By being associated with St. Luke’s and getting my foot in the door with this sort of healthcare technology, maybe I can, at some point, further advance into a related field.”