(GREENVILLE, IL) – HSHS Holy Family Hospital continues to seek ways to allow area residents to get advanced specialty care close to home. One of the latest steps is the hospital’s acquisition of a second telemedicine “robot” to provide direct access to intensivists, board certified physicians who specialize in the care of critically ill patients, most often in the intensive care unit (ICU). This purchase was made possible thanks to donations received from area individuals and businesses to HSHS Holy Family Foundation, who granted $22,230 to the hospital to acquire the equipment.
Through this new telemedicine cart and monitor, intensivist physician on staff at HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in O’Fallon are available for consultation 24/7 to physicians and nurses at HSHS Holy Family Hospital. St. Elizabeth’s and Holy Family are both part of the Southern Illinois Division of Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS).
St. Elizabeth’s Project Manager of Telehealth Erin Kochan shared, “Through telemedicine, Holy Family can facilitate an encounter between the patient and an intensivist even though they may be miles apart. The remote presence intensivist can examine the patient using sophisticated videoconference and other medical equipment, speak with clinicians and family members, review any imaging scans and other tests, and support treatment decisions with documentation in the medical record,” she explained.
Telemedicine has been in use at Holy Family since 2014, when the hospital began partnering with HSHS St. John’s Hospital through their 24/7 tele-stroke program. A telemedicine cart and monitor stationed in the Emergency department is used by physicians to allow a tele-neurologist to examine a patient suffering a stroke to help expedite treatment decisions, reduce disability, helps many patients avoid unnecessary transfers, and ultimately save lives.
The hospital also provides a telemedicine psychiatrist for their inpatient behavioral health program to help meet gaps in behavioral health in the community.
Sanjay Nigam, psychiatric director, manager of Telepsychiatric services at HSHS Holy Family Hospital, explained why Holy Family is continuing to expand the use of telemedicine. “We are blessed to have excellent physicians on our Medical Staff from a variety of specialties, and we continue to recruit more specialties to provide quality care locally. But given the smaller size of our community, it can be difficult to recruit certain specialties due to the limited number of cases we might have for them, so that is where telemedicine is important,” he explained. “There are health situations where it is helpful to have another specialist consult on a patient. We used to conduct these consultations over the phone, but that only allowed us to describe the symptoms. With this new advanced technology, the specialist can basically see the patient with their own eyes, see how they are reacting, while viewing their scans at the same time, as if they were in the same room with the patient.”
Director of Philanthropy Amy Liefer shared why the HSHS Holy Family Foundation wanted to support the purchase of this equipment. “The Foundation believes there is great value in using gifts and contributions from businesses, families and individuals to enhance the quality of care provided to our patients right here in Bond County.”
HSHS has been a pioneering leader and advocate of telehealth technology in Illinois, founding the Illinois Telehealth Network (ITN) through a HRSA Rural Health Network Development grant, other federal grants, and significant matching grants from the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis Foundation. Today the network consists of 26 health organizations across the state, both HSHS affiliates and non-HSHS affiliates. ITN’s mission is to promote the capacity of its members to improve access to health care in rural, underserved and disadvantaged communities through the application of telehealth and telemedicine solutions.
Photo: Celebrating HSHS Holy Family Hospital’s newest telemedicine “robot” to provide intensivist consultations for critically ill patients is (left to right) Erin Kochan, project manager of telehealth at HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, where the intensivists are located, standing alongside Hospitalist Physician Asim Elmahboub, MD; and HSHS Holy Family representatives Carol Dodson, chief nursing officer; Tera Scroggins, nursing supervisor; and Taylor Laurie, medical/surgical unit registered nurse.