CART on a Pole: Real-Time Translation in the ICU


The CART profession – (Communication Access Realtime Translation) also known as captioning – brings new experiences, new knowledge, and new friends.

Today I had the privilege of working with a gentleman who apparently was in an accident of some kind. He is in ICU on a ventilator. This gentleman has a condition known as Neurofibromatosis 2. Many people with NF2 end up losing their hearing because tumors develop around their acoustic nerves. I have provided communication access remotely for many patients each time they meet with a doctor or healthcare professional.

This particular CART job, though, had more of an impact on me than most of my CART jobs. This gentleman was clear across the country lying in a hospital bed on a ventilator and I was able to use my skill to help him communicate with his caregivers and his family, instantaneously.

The hospital has developed a system called the IPOP and COW: IV Phone on a Pole and CART on Wheels. They wheel the speaker phone that is mounted on an IV pole into the room and place it next to the patient. I know this information about the equipment not because any of the staff told me but because this gentleman’s young son commented on the acronyms, thinking it was a funny use of letters.

The hospital staff phones the CART provider and we listen to the conversation and simultaneously stream the text back to the computer they have placed in front of the patient. In this instance, when the patient needed to speak, they took him off the ventilator for a brief period so he could talk. It was difficult not to get emotional when the patient said that through the night he felt he was dying because he couldn’t breathe. And when the doctors told him that he may be on the ventilator for the rest of his life, I just about fell apart. I feel as if I know him even though I’ve never met him.

The family and staff call me by my first name and often ask how I am doing. I am a part of the team to help someone recover. It is so rewarding to know that CART providers can use the skill, knowledge and technology that we possess to help someone wherever he or she may be; that we can be an integral part of someone’s recovery and to be there to help someone communicate, to hear his son say “Daddy, can’t wait for you to get home,” and for that son to hear daddy say “Daddy’s gonna be okay and be home soon.”

Written by:
Denise Hinxman, Owner of Captions Unlimited in Reno, Nevada

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