Fruita hospital adds telemedicine services

Lori Randall

Colorado Canyons Hospital & Medical Center in Fruita offers stroke, neurology and psychiatric services through a new telemedicine program.

HealthONE, a health care system in the Denver area, will provide the services through its virtual network.

“We are grateful for this partnership with HealthONE that will help bring additional clinical resources to our community and increase access to specialty care that will not only enhance patient access, but the quality of patient care that we provide,” said Lori Randall, chief operating officer and chief nursing officer at Family Health West, which operates the hospital.

A mobile cart equipped with a camera, microphone, monitor and computer links doctors and patients at Colorado Canyons Hospital with neurologists and psychiatrists. The technology allows for the examination, diagnosis and treatment of patients while they remain in Fruita.

The HealthONE network is one about 200 telemedicine networks in the United States. By one estimate, half of U.S. hospitals use some form of telemedicine.

“Every second counts in minimizing the damage a stroke can cause to the brain. Quick assessment and personalized care are key,” said Dr. Chris Fanale, who developed the telemedicine stroke program.

“Having this state-of-the-art telemedicine program puts the stroke specialist instantly in the room with a patient and ER physician,” Fanale said. “As a stroke neurologist, I can have a conversation with the patient and family, examine the patient’s ability to move and speak and even zoom in to assess pupil reactivity. We can talk to EMS and ER staff and access monitors and vital signs immediately. There is no other system in the region that is currently offering this level of care to stroke victims.”

Dr. Michelle DeNault, regional medical director of the telemedicine psychiatry program, said the network offers around-the-clock services. “We have a core team of employed physicians who deliver timely, accurate and complete psychiatric assessments and treatments and work collaboratively with the hospital treatment team to effectively treat patients, reduce wait times and inappropriate commitments and improve compliance.”

Family Health West operates Colorado Canyons Hospital and Medical Center as well as provides a range of health care services. For more information, call 858-3900 or visit www.fhw.org.