Fiber optic network improves North Country health care

— Fiber optic telecommunications will improve the quality of health care at a time when health care is asked to do more with less.

Rural health care facilities in eight counties in northern New York will have high quality, affordable digital connectivity necessary to share telemedicine and telehealth services starting in late November.

The Adirondack – Champlain Telemedicine Information Network (ACTION) is a regional initiative formed to create a fiber optic telecommunications and telemedicine network that connects eight participating hospitals, 40 primary care facilities affiliated with these hospitals and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe Health Care Facility.

“Elizabethtown Community Hospital has had access to its own fiber optic lines, along with the ability to offer telemedicine, for a number of years,” said Jane Hooper, Director of Community Relations for Elizabethtown Community Hospital. “The completion of this regional project will give ECH the opportunity to expand its telemedicine capabilities to any hospital within the region; increasing access to specialty care from its facility in Elizabethtown and its community-based health centers.

“Additionally, it will allow ECH to easily share patient information; increasing patient safety by alerting providers to allergies or pre-existing conditions that may affect treatment.”

The network encompasses Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Rensselaer, Saratoga, St. Lawrence, Warren and Washington counties in New York and extends to Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, Vermont.

Participants outlined the project at a press conference at CVPH Medical Center, discussing the merits of the program and thanking government officials who helped secure the funding.

All gathered stressed that the fiber optic telecommunications system will improve health care quality, patient safety and maximize cost efficiencies at a time when health care must do more with less.

Lawmakers who played a key role in gaining funding for the project included Congressman Bill Owens, Senator Betty Little and Assemblywoman Janet Duprey.

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