By Wendy Grafius, contributing writer
School-based health center uses telemedicine technology to detect medical issues, decrease emergency room visits to the local hospital
Community Health Center (CHC) of Branch County, Michigan, has partnered with AMD Global Telemedicine Inc. (AMD) to provide a school-based health center. In operation since January, the clinic was developed for early detection of school children’s medical issues, thus reducing visits to the emergency room.
Officials at CHC sought a way to bring quality medical care to underserved children in the region. Offering primary care in a school-based telemedicine program in which illnesses were caught early would allow timely treatment and eliminate unnecessary ER visits. “We chose AMD’s Telemed ED (Telemedicine for Educational Deployment) because all the medical devices, software technology, and point-to-point video capability was in one simple quality package and ready to go,” said Theresa Gillette, RN and program manager at CHC. “It made what could have been a very long process, a very short and easy decision.”
AMD is the world’s leading provider of Telemedicine Encounter Management Solutions (TEMS), with 4700 patient end-points in 94+ countries. Its telemedicine solution includes a mobile cart specially-equipped with medical devices, examination camera, and web camera. Software technology is provided to facilitate the sharing of live medical images, video, and data with a remote practitioner for consultation.
The CHC school-based health center offers primary care services for acute illnesses such as strep throat, ear infections, rash, and influenza. However, the telemedicine clinic has exceeded expectations by its staff detecting serious medical issues in several children, including cardiac abnormalities and musculoskeletal injuries. The early detection enabled clinicians to order additional tests in which the young patients were referred directly to the appropriate hospital departments, and not utilizing valuable ER resources.
CHC was opened in 1939 with 36 beds and 70 employees. Two major additions have expanded the facility to a 70-acute medical and 16-adult psychiatric bed facility on a sprawling 28 acres in Coldwater, Michigan, with over 600 employees. Joint Commission accredited, the county-owned hospital offers cardiopulmonary/respiratory care, surgical services, critical care unit, inpatient behavioral health, sexual assault services, physical therapy/rehabilitation, home health/hospice care, diagnostic imaging/radiology/lab services and centers for cancer, sleep, hematology, wound healing, and maternal infant health/birthing. CHC’s outpatient clinics are staffed by a qualified medical staff of over 100 physicians in family practice, internal medicine, and pediatrics. Community health initiatives include health education, support groups, and health fairs.