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Ministry Health Care Community Report
Community Report

The Heart of Telehealth

The Heart of Telehealth

When the heart is not able to pump out oxygen-rich blood, congestive heart failure happens. Because the pumping action of the heart is not effective, blood may build up in the lungs, liver, gastrointestinal tract, arms and legs. If not treated or managed properly, this chronic condition can lead to a heart attack.

Now, with the advance of the telehealth program for congestive heart failure at Ministry Good Samaritan Health Center, people can be treated close to home – whether admitted to the hospital or need follow up appointments that are critical to successful treatment.

Telehealth allows communication between healthcare clinicians and patients in Merrill by means of an audio or video link to the cardiology experts of the One Heart Care Team of Marshfield Clinic and Ministry Health Care. The program gives rural hospitals access to expert care that is usually only found in larger cities; it’s changing the face of medical care.

“The expansion of our telehealth program will provide patients the benefit of a cardiology consultation while hospitalized or as follow-up without having to leave the area,” explains Jackie Frombach, RN, director of patient care services and operations at Ministry Good Samaritan. “To implement the program, an exam room in our outpatient department has been transformed to accommodate the required telehealth equipment.”

Ministry Good Samaritan worked closely with the One Heart Care team to launch the newest program for heart failure patients. Analysis identified nearly 300 people in Lincoln County and surrounding areas with congestive heart failure that could benefit from this service.

“Despite being in Merrill, patients will be able to interact with the cardiac team as if they were in the same room, thanks to high-resolution cameras and audio equipment,” Frombach adds. “The program can be used to monitor patients’ progress and medication use as well.”

When treated effectively, symptoms can be minimized and sometimes the heart will even become stronger. Each participant in the Chronic Heart Failure Program receives a personalized care plan that includes scheduled check-ups at Ministry Good Samaritan and the potential for remote monitoring from home to even further decrease travel needs.

“With our assistance, the cardiac team can perform an exam to assess the patient and rank the severity of symptoms,” says Kali Erickson, a registered nurse at Ministry Good Samaritan who has completed the necessary telehealth training. “In addition, the cardiac team will have access to lab results, past medical and medications history, and will be able to view any diagnostic imaging that can be completed here on site. This will help them collaborate with the clinician and decide on the best treatment option for the patient.”

Ministry Good Samaritan also uses the Telehealth technology for other cardiology and neurological consultations in its Emergency Department and Inpatient Unit.

Published April 2015

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