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Robots work to combat healthcare worker shortages at IU Health

IU Health North and Tipton are using them during a pilot program to deliver meds and labs.
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Posted at 5:51 PM, Feb 22, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-22 18:21:31-05

CARMEL — Staffing shortages at hospitals are creating extra work and stress for nurses, technicians and doctors.

But two hospitals are getting some relief from a robot.

Through the halls of IU Health North, you will find IU-D2 roaming the halls.

At IU Health Tipton, you'll find Waldo.

"Hello your delivery has arrived," the robot says. "Our robot is waiting outside your door for you to pick it up."

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The robot is working to alleviate staffing shortage issues the hospitals are facing.

"It's kind of fascinating," Janice Vadas said.

Vadas is the Director of Allied Health for IU Health North.

Vadas was in a meeting when they were talking about ways to address the staffing shortage and a robot was mentioned.

"Somebody said, 'Oh, we just need a robot' and I kind of had an ah-ha moment. I was like, oh my gosh I've seen these delivery robots before," Vadas said.

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It's all part of a pilot program at IU Health. The robots work to relieve nurses and pharmacy techs by picking up and delivering things like labs or medications.

"To leave and go run something somewhere is a huge interruption," Vadas said.

The employee in the lab has access to the robot and portal to control and tell it where to go.

The portal works as the brains behind the robot.

Virtual mapping allows it to take the path, electronically call the elevator and even move out of the way of people.

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It doesn't charge fast down the hallway, it only travels a third of the speed of humans.

Plus, it doesn't interact with patients. Rather than replacing the jobs of those who work at the hospital, it's working to assist them.

The goal is for hospital staff to focus on other essentials and patient care.

"Being able to work to the top of your license and do what you are trained to do and not be just walking something somewhere really allows you to do that," Vadas said.

The hospital system will evaluate how they performed and decide if they'll keep them full time.