Piggott Community Hospital Benefits From Grant

Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Those on hand for the grant presentation to Piggott Community Hospital included, from left: Mark White, chief executive officer of Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield; Patrick O'Sullivan, executive director of the Blue and You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas; PCH executive director James L. Magee and Mike Brown, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield.(courtesy photo)

Thanks to a grant from the Blue and You Foundation of Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Piggott Community Hospital has the opportunity to upgrade an important effort. The foundation has awarded a $110,000 grant to the local hospital, with the funds earmarked for improvements in the area of telemedicine.

In making the award, the foundation noted that organizations in big and small cities are seeing the benefits of employing the technology offered by telemedicine, with the biggest impression, arguably be for those living in rural communities. "Across the country, collaborative partnerships are improving health and saving money by bringing specialists to the patient with online clinical encounters," a spokesman noted.

"We are developing a telemedicine program to make access to specialty care easier for our patients," noted James Magee, executive director of PCH. "We will be using the money offered by BCBS to develop programs with physicians who provide specialty care in the hospital's Specialty Care Clinic and the rural health clinics affiliated with the hospital in Rector and Campbell."

According to Magee, the hospital is also looking to other facilities in an effort to offer better care for local patients. "Discussions are underway with St. Bernard's (Regional Medical Center) for a cardiology program. Dialogue is also progressing with a Cape Girardeau hospital to access specialists for our Missouri patients," he added. "Preliminary discussions have also begun with UAMS for a hospitalist telemedicine program with the support of an APRN (advanced practice nurse) on site."

Piggott Community Hospital currently provides telemedicine for emergency and acute care through relationships with UAMS and Baptist Health Systems. A part of their effort, the ARSaves Stroke Prevention Program, has been attributed to several success stories locally and credited with preventing possible death and disability by the administration of special medicines. The program revolves around the special drugs, which are designed for successful intervention if used within four hours of the onset of ischemic stroke. But, the medication may only be ordered after a diagnosis by a specialty neurologist, a service provided by UAMS on a 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week basis through the use of telemedicine.

"We think we will be able to keep and care for many of our acute care hospital patients that have been transferred in the past," Magee explained. "Thus saving time, travel and access to advanced care on a local basis."

He added local citizens have learned that this is especially important to aging patients and their families.

"We also look forward to a time in the future that the same type system would allow telemedicine to assist in delivering care to nursing home patients," Magee added. "Nursing home patients who are frail now often require ambulance transport for physician, urgent and specialty care."

He also noted the service will also be of use to those not facing an emergency situation. "It will be of great benefit to all when patients are able to make an appointment with distant, highly-qualified specialists, and meet that appointment locally, eliminating the need for travel," he offered. "This will also benefit physicians who will be able to follow patients who live further away from their clinics on a regular basis directly from their offices."

It was also noted the Blue and You Foundation is also making a grant available to the Piggott Parks and Recreation Commission for use at Heritage Park.

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