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Elizabethtown Community Hospital receives telemed grant

— A grant from the United State Department of Agriculture will give Elizabethtown Community Hospital and its regional health centers the chance to enhance their services with telemedicine.

ECH CEO Rodney Boula said that the hospital recently received a grant for $136,000, which will be used to have telemedicine stations at each of the clinics run by hospital, including the recently purchased Smith House in Willsboro.

“We will have a link to the emergency room and to each of the clinic sites,” Boula said. “Rather than have the patient come into the clinic and then have to go back out, get into the car and head to Elizabethtown, the doctors and emergency room will be able to see it from the clinic.”

ECH currently has telemedicine technology in its chemotherapy department and also uses the technology to communicate with Fletcher Allen Hospital in Burlington, Vt., when it comes to stroke patients. Boula said that the grant will increase the capabilities within the hospital, as well.

“This will be all state-of-the-art systems that will connect us with the emergency rooms at Fletcher Allen and CVPH as well as to our health centers,” Boula said. “It’s not Skype, it’s all high definition and top of the field.”

Boula said that using telemedicine can help save costs for hospitals and patients alike.

“Patients that have worked with the system that we have are pleased with it,” he said. “These are all ways to cut down on the transports and driving for the patients. We can do emergency room to emergency room using telemedicine and get a consultation through that, then everyone saves.”

Along with providing telemedicine services to the hospital as well as the health centers in Wilmington, Westport, the Smith House and the Elizabethtown Community Health Center, Boula also said that they will have a station that will be placed at the Essex County Jail in Lewis.

“We provide physicians and nurses to the jail now, and this would be something that would help us utilize the physicians time more efficiently while cutting down on costs for the county,” Boula said. “It’s a program that can be a win for all sides.”

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