|Apr 26, 2013 --
There are currently 54 Board Certified Critical Care Physicians in Arkansas, all of whom are located in urban areas. Medical research has consistently found that critically ill patients who are experiencing medical emergencies and have immediate access to specialist care have fewer complications, lower health-care costs, and are more likely to survive than those without such access. Reducing the time required for rural residents to access critical care will demonstrably improve the quality of life and mortality rate of individuals living in Arkansas’ rural areas.
How Rural Development Helped:
In 2009, Baptist Health received two grants through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program. These funds, totaling over $600,000, were used to fund a critical care medical network connecting six rural medical centers and a major hospital hub site at Little Rock.
Using these DLT funds, lifesaving technology was purchased that allows critically ill patients in nine rural hospitals to, at the touch of a button, have immediate, round-the-clock access to experienced Critical Care physicians and Registered Nurses. Through the DLT Program, Baptist Health in Little Rock, Arkansas has partnered with physicians and hospitals in rural Arkansas in caring for critically ill patients. The high resolution audio and video equipment present in the DLT-funded hospitals enables teams of specialists in Little Rock to conduct virtual rounds in participating hospitals. Through the network, these specialists direct patient care, provide emergency consultation and management, and assist the bedside teams that offer direct support to patients and caregivers in their home communities across Arkansas.
By increasing rural residents’ access to local health-care service, USDA’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) is helping to build a healthier rural Arkansas. Rural patient care continues to improve, as it approaches a quality of care comparable to that offered in urban settings. DLT funds have enabled the provision of remote assistance in the local stabilization and management of rural patients requiring transfer to an urban healthcare facility. This assistance ensures that rural patients receive evidence-based specialty care significantly sooner than they might otherwise.
The DLT-funded telemedicine network has permitted numerous patients, who previously would have been transported to Little Rock, to receive local treatment at the direction of a remote specialist. Recently, a patient who underwent surgery returned to the local hospital two weeks later with a life-threatening blood clot in their lungs. Concerned about the limited resources available to the local hospital, the family requested that the patient be transported by helicopter to Little Rock. Their concerns were assuaged in less than 10 seconds, when a specialist in Little Rock was connected to the patient and family via the telemedicine network, virtually at the patient’s bedside. The patient and their family expressed confidence in the care team of local and remote physicians and nurses, who, together, were able to continuously monitor the patient’s status and provide the best possible care. The patient remained at the local hospital and made a full recovery.
For more information on the Telecom Program or any of its success stories, contact Mary Campanola at 202-720-8822 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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