Rural patients benefit from UMC Telehealth program - - Jackson, MS

Rural patients benefit from UMC Telehealth program

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Nurse Mary Berlin is monitoring every patient at Holmes County Hospital in Lexington. While she can't physically enter their rooms, she can virtually enter them.

"This is the bedside monitor. This is exactly what's going on bedside, real time," she says, pointing to the video monitor in front of her.

Nurse Berlin can check vital signs, read charts, ask questions, and make recommendations. This component of UMC's Telehealth program has been up and running for about ten years. Now, through a new agreement with the Delta Regional Authority, an economic development group, the program is expanding to include mental health care and education.

"We know we gotta use the resources that are out there. So if the family doctor is out there, we want him trained in the latest information on mental health, so he can deliver better care to patients in his community," says Kristi Henderson, UMC Director of Telehealth.

The expansion will mean 200 new jobs, and about 500 better-trained health care providers in rural areas.

Telehealth benefits doctors as well. Doctor Ben Yarbrough is linked in from Franklin County Memorial Hospital in Southwest Mississippi. He tells us how Telehealth helped him when another doctor went on leave for 12 weeks.

"During that time, I was the only physician here taking care of patients. Had it not been for the Telemedicine program, I'd have lived in the hospital for 2 1/2 months," he says.

The Delta Regional Authority is investing $450,000 into the expansion.

"This is one of the best models of how we address the shortages of physicians and medical care professionals in rural America," says DRA Chairman Chris Masingill.

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