April 5, 2017
Residents at two central Wisconsin skilled nursing centers have access to world-class health care in the comfort of their community thanks to telehealth technology and a partnership between Marshfield Clinic, Bethel Center and Colonial Center. This expansion was made possible with funding provided through the Marshfield Clinic Health System's 2016-20 Health Resources and Services Administration grant.
Bethel Center, Arpin, and Colonial Center, Colby, are skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers serving individuals in rural communities. When weather turns cold and snowy, or a resident's condition makes travel to their doctor difficult, that's where telehealth comes in.
Marshfield Clinic has a dedicated telehealth room at both skilled nursing facilities where patients can have private consultations with physicians specializing in heart failure, dermatology, sleep medicine, wound care and many other specialties. Team members are trained to operate telehealth equipment, help with physical exams, and work with residents to use stethoscopes and to take photos of wounds for real-time analysis by physicians.
Transport vehicles and center staff are required for each visit to the Clinic. Telehealth can save time and reduce unnecessary travel costs for everyone involved.
"When our patients are discharged from a hospital to the skilled nursing facilities, we want to make sure they don't need to be re-admitted soon after," said Chris Meyer, director of Marshfield Clinic Virtual Health. "Telehealth is a way to provide continuity of care and make sure that their chronic illness doesn't require another hospital visit and reduces the inconvenience and cost associated with travel."
Marshfield Clinic and these two skilled nursing centers operated by Exceptional Living Centers have worked together for several years. Clinic physicians perform regular medical rounds at the Arpin and Colby centers.
"Telemedicine is the wave of the future. Residents who don't need to leave the center for physician care enjoy that they can receive convenient care where they are rather than getting out in the elements and traveling to the physician's office," said Trudy Erickson, executive director at Colonial Center. "We look forward to working with Marshfield Clinic to determine other opportunities to expand telehealth services for additional specialties."
Marshfield Clinic provides patient care, research and education with more than 50 locations in northern, central and western Wisconsin, making it one of the largest comprehensive medical systems in the United States.