LakeWood Health Center consists of the following four divisions: LakeWood Care Center, LakeWood Clinic, LakeWood Health Center, and LakeWood Nursing Service. They service a population of 6,000 to 9,000 people, the number fluctuating with seasonal tourism activities. LakeWood is a federally designated Critical Access Hospital.
Baudette and the LakeWood Health Center were recently featured on MPR for their telemedicine services…
Lakewood Health Center in Baudette is the city’s only access to emergency care. It’s small, with only two doctors and a nurse practitioner on staff. They and a team of on-call nurses respond to emergencies as they arise.
But for the past year, the Lakewood Health Center has had many more medical experts at its disposal. Nursing Director Patty Frohreich said when things get hectic in the emergency room, staff can tap the help of experienced doctors and nurses at a call center in Sioux Falls, S.D.
“All I have to do is push this button on the red emergency box,” Frohreich said.
The service called e-Emergency is part of a range of telemedicine services provided by the Sioux Falls-based Avera Health system. When the call is answered, a high-definition television screen pops on above one of the emergency bays. Registered Nurse Becky Vandekeift in Sioux Falls can remotely control a wall-mounted camera, capable of zooming in on patients, as well as IV pumps, cardiac machines and other monitoring equipment.
The program has provided life-saving care and it sounds like it has also allowed cost savings at the patient level that help support the ongoing costs…
Avera Health officials say their eEmergency Service costs subscribers between $40,000 and $80,000 annually, depending on volume. The service has been used by the hospital in Baudette only 14 times in the past year, but it has provided critical help in a few life-saving situations. Frohreich said on several occasions it has eliminated the need to transfer patients to larger hospitals hundreds of miles away.
“If we can keep a couple of patients at home per month and avoid an unnecessary transfer, that’s going to support the ongoing program,” Frohreich said. “It’s a service that we welcome in our emergency room.*”*
Avera’s e-Emergency Service is now in 62 hospitals across the upper Midwest. By next month there will be 16 Minnesota hospitals connected
It sounds as if they have a growing presence in Minnesota…
Avera’s telemedicine reach into Minnesota has grown since it began in 2007. In Minnesota alone, Avera now has nine ePharmacy sites. In addition to supporting emergency room service, there are three Minnesota health facilities that use Avera to support their intensive care units. The not-for-profit company will soon launch a similar service for long-term care facilities.
Dr. Donald Kosiak, who directs all of Avera’s telemedicine services, said increasing use of technology fits well with national health reform goals. For example, he says, data show that in just over three years, the e-Emergency service has saved nearly $4 million by reducing medical transfer costs.