HOMER – Claiborne Memorial Medical Center (CMMC) has been selected as one of a few recipients nationwide to receive more than $700,000 in grant funding to establish a telemedicine program in Claiborne Parish.
Designed to assist rural communities embrace the power of telecommunications to overcome remoteness and outdated technology, the USDA Distance Learning & Telemedicine Grant will be used to implement a telemedicine program for Claiborne Parish. A joint venture between Claiborne Memorial Medical Center and the Claiborne Parish School Board, the completed telemedicine project will benefit students, faculty, and staff at all Claiborne Parish public schools and private schools. It will also enable residents of area nursing homes to use telemedicine as an alternative to hospital or clinic visits.
For those unfamiliar with telemedicine, this is a technology that allows a patient to see a doctor from virtually anywhere using a HIPAA compliant video-conferencing tool. While the practice of caring for patients remotely when the provider and patient are not physically present with each other has been in practice for several decades the popularity of the practice surge during the Covid-19 pandemic. Today’s telehealth machines have a camera, monitor, speaker and microphone. But many also have medical diagnostic devices (called peripherals) just like those you would see in a physician’s office: a stethoscope, an otoscope, an ultrasound wand, a pulse oximeter, a blood pressure cuff, a glucometer, EKG monitors, and more.
“What’s amazing about the world of telemedicine is that actual medical devices are connected to the machine and then the nurse uses it on the patient,” said Tina Haynes, CMMC CEO. “A stethoscope, for example, is hooked to the machine and held up to the patient’s chest. A doctor 30 miles away can hear your heartbeat.”
Once implemented, the grant recipients anticipate many benefits to Claiborne Parish including: reduced absenteeism by both students, faculty, and staff; improved overall health and wellbeing to area children; identification and early treatment for students needing psychiatric treatment; and a reduction in nursing admissions to the hospital.
A similar telemedicine program has been in place in Jackson Parish and in Bienville Parish for several years. This program has had outstanding success with reduced absenteeism and improved juvenile health.