Eureka, CA (April 18, 2013) – St. Joseph Hospital, in an effort to ensure high quality health care services remain accessible in our community, is pleased to announce the arrival of a new telehealth device. This device, which was introduced in our facility in early February, allows physicians to remotely deliver comprehensive, real-time consultative services to patients in our hospital.
At this time, the telehealth device is specifically being used for nephrology services. The North Coast has seen a recent decrease in the number of nephrologists (kidney specialists). Even though there is an active endeavor right now to recruit additional nephrologists to our community, St. Joseph Hospital is investing in telehealth technology in order to ensure this specialty care remains available to our patients and our community right now and into the future. According to The World Market for Telehealth – An analysis of Demand Dynamics – 2012, telehealth is projected to reach 1.8 million patients worldwide by 2017.
"Telehealth is quickly growing across the country," said Dr. Matthew Miller, Chief Medical Officer for St. Joseph and Redwood Memorial Hospital hospitals. "It provides an opportunity to expand access to health care especially in rural areas, closing the gap between the need for specialty care and access to that care. St. Joseph Hospital is excited and very proud to be able to provide this kind of technology for our community," added Dr. Miller.
The telehealth device includes a monitor, audio/video communications, stethoscope and privacy headset. It is designed to be easily moved around the hospital. Two physicians from within St. Joseph Health – one from Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital and one from Petaluma Valley Hospital – are able to provide consultations through the device.
Additionally, several of the Community Resource Centers (CRCs) of St. Joseph and Redwood Memorial Hospital hospitals are now equipped with telehealth. CRCs in Willow Creek, Loleta and Eureka have a large monitor and camera that allow connectivity to the internet via a medically secure connection. Services available include personal and family counseling from Open Door Community Health Center providers. Also, clients of the CRCs will be able to access other health and lifestyle education and support services through the telehealth equipment and share services with each other. Paso a Paso (Step by Step), a program of the CRCs that supports the local Hispanic community, now also has a telehealth unit that will allow access to health promotion services in Spanish.