Hospitals receive IHA award
At their October convention the Idaho Hospital Association will award St. Mary’s and Clearwater Valley Hospitals and Clinics the 2011 Community Benefits Award for their telemedicine program.
According to the IHA, the award recognizes a healthcare organization that has demonstrated exceptional community benefit by improving the health and well-being of their community through health, economic or social initiatives…the most important aspect of a community benefit project is the difference it makes.
Between November, 2010 and May, 2011 CVHC and SMHC physicians and patients consulted with a Spokane telehospitalist group, Confera, about inpatient care.  Telehospitalists are generally internal medicine physicians who specialize in inpatient care.  During that time 30 patients were retained at the local hospitals rather than being transported to distant facilities.  
“The hospitalists consult with us and our patients via our RP-7 robots to help us make the critical decision about what is the most appropriate care. Sometimes the decision is made that the patient requires a higher level of care than we can provide, but on these 30 occasions over the past seven months the hospitalists either provided care advice or told us that everything that could be done, was being done and the patient could remain with us,” said Dr. Michael Meza, CVHC Family Practice physician.  “It saves expensive transport costs and allows the patient to remain in their home community, close to their family, friends and family doctor.”
Since initiating their telepsychiatric program in February 2009, also using the RP-7 robots, close to 700 pediatric visits and 1200 adult visits have occurred between local patients and two Boise based psychiatrists.
The telemedicine program also includes cardiology consults with Spokane based cardiologists including Dr. Kevin Kavanaugh who has ‘seen’ patients on 86 occasions, thus saving costly and time consuming six hour round trips for local residents.  A congestive heart failure specialist at St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise has also provided 20 classes or consults for CHF patients.  Telemergency consults are also available through Dr. Po Huang and his associates who provide emergency services for SARMC.
“We’ve recently started a teledermatology program using a dermatologist based in Minnesota,” said Curtis Fryer, Telemedicine Coordinator for SMHC and CVHC.  Fryer and Dr. Meza will receive the award at the 78th Annual IHA Convention in Sun Valley, October 1-4th.  The hospitals were also recognized by the National Rural Health Association as the Outstanding Rural Health Organization for 2011.

Leianne Everett, SMHC Chief Operating Officer, is pictured at the St. Mary’s Hospital Award cabinet.  Clearwater Valley Hospital and 
SMHC will receive the IHA 2011 Community Benefits Award for their telemedicine program.

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