Cole telemedicine

From left, Cole Memorial Hospital maternity department employee Ashley Cowburn, RN, along with pediatrician Dr. Marlene Wust-Smith, examine Sophia Cizek, 4, with her father, Scott, and Steve Weidner, RN, in the hospital’s emergency department pediatric telemedicine examination room.

COUDERSPORT — Cole Memorial Hospital in Coudersport has launched pediatric telemedicine in the emergency department and maternity unit, thanks to the Optimizing Utilization and Rural Emergency Access for Children (OUTREACH) program through the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Hospital officials said when a child requires emergency health care, pediatricians and emergency medicine providers at Cole Memorial will be able to consult with clinical specialists at Children’s Hospital of UPMC via the new state-of-the-art telemedicine technology.

“The telemedicine unit is portable so it can be used in the emergency department or in the newborn nursery at the hospital, allowing our providers to collaborate with pediatric specialists in Pittsburgh,” said Ann Slotta, RN, director of maternal/child and inpatient behavioral health services at Cole Memorial.

Telemedicine offers two-way audio/video conferencing applications to provide high-level clinical consultations between a Cole Memorial provider and a specialist at a distance.

Cole Memorial director of emergency services Shannon Work, RN, said 18 percent of the patients that visit the hospital’s emergency department are age 18 and under. 

Hospital officials said so far, the benefits of Cole Memorial’s pediatric emergency telemedicine service include patients and their family travel less to receive specialized care; the need for hospital admissions may be reduced; when higher-level care or a special procedure is required, transfers may be made immediately; expert care is available 24/7; and provides patients, their family members, hospital providers and staff with an increase in satisfaction with the outcomes.

“The first pediatric tele-emergency patient visit ... allowed our patient to be evaluated by an emergency room provider at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, who agreed with me that he was stable for discharge to his own home,” said Dr. Marlene Wust-Smith, a pediatrician. “Our patient was relieved to not have to travel four and a half hours to Pittsburgh, and I was reassured that his presenting complaint did not require further work-up.” 

In addition, the following tele-medicine services are available at Cole Memorial with expert clinical partners such as: Rheumatology with the Geisinger Health System in Danville and cardiology and neurology with UPMC Hamot Heart and Vascular Institute in Erie. 

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