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Barton Receives Telehealth Award!

In Photo (L to R): Ann Truscott, RN & Dr. Gregory Bergner, M.D.

At a recent Telemedicine conference hosted by California Telehealth Network, Barton Memorial Hospital won an award for Excellence in Telemedicine. Barton received the award for our collaboration with our community and partners in delivering Telehealth patient services.

The award was accepted by Ann Truscott, RN, Telemedicine Coordinator and Dr. Gregory Bergner, physician champion and Barton board member.

A Barton Health Initiative

Telehealth for Tahoe logo

The Barton Healthcare System is committed to providing comprehensive healthcare services to residents in the greater South Lake Tahoe  and Carson Valley regions.

During a recently completed study, process gaps in access to specialty care services emerged as a top priority. Based upon information technology investments already in place and research on “best practice” solutions for resolving rural health specialty care needs Barton HealthCare System has elected to pursue development of a Telehealth Initiative to facilitate increased patient access to targeted specialty care providers.

The area served by the Barton HealthCare System encompasses nearly 100,000 residents distributed across eastern El Dorado County, the south shore area of Lake Tahoe, the Stateline area joining El Dorado and Douglas counties and down both western and eastern slopes emanating from the Tahoe basin. This collection of towns and unincorporated county residential areas are predominantly rural. Residents are isolated from the major urban centers in California and Nevada by virtue of the high mountain passes, limited transportation arteries, and severe winters that make access to off mountain communities difficult for 6 months of the year.

A common misperception about the Lake Tahoe region is that the presence of a major ski resort and recreation environment provides a high standard of living and distinguishes Tahoe from other rural areas. In reality, while there is a permanent full time resident population exceeding 25,000, 70% of the homes in the South Lake Tahoe area are second homes for non-resident owners. The full time resident population is primarily employed in service jobs in the retail, tourism, construction, and related service industries. Wages are low and health benefits are limited while the cost of living is high due to tourism inflated home prices and premium costs for commodities.

An unintended consequence of restrictive building policies in the Tahoe Basin is that real estate prices have skyrocketed to the point that much of the stable middle class in Tahoe has moved into nearby Nevada.  This out-migration has also resulted in the loss of already severely limited specialty services due to the reduced full-time population.  An additional problem is that most of the nearby specialty service providers in Nevada are unwilling and/or unable to accept the California based uninsured or publicly insured population as patients.

Specialty Care: Need and Response

Barton HealthCare System, under the leadership of new CEO John Williams embarked on a mission to address and resolve the gaps in specialty care services available to area residents. During the summer of 2007 a Task Force was formed to study and recommend cost effective solutions leveraging the expertise of key leaders within the healthcare community. In particular the Task Force was charged with investigating the potential for utilizing telemedicine to enable physicians and patients to access specialty services far from the rural mountain environment.

Task Force Members:

  • John Williams, CEO, Barton HealthCare System

  • Clinton Purvance, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, Barton Memorial Hospital

  • Gregory Bergner, M.D., Tahoe Carson Valley Medical Group

  • Michael Ward, HighBar Consulting Group

  • Ann Truscott, RN, Barton HealthCare System

For more information about this project, please click here to download the flyer or contact the Telemedicine Coordinator, Ann Truscott at (530) 543-5867 or e-mail at atruscott@bartonhealth.org.

Helpful Telehealth Information

California Telehealth Resource Center
http://www.caltrc.org

Telemedicine Information Exchange
http://www.tmhguide.org

Center for Telehealth and E-Health Law
http://www.telehealthlawcenter.org

Health Resources and Service Administration - Telehealth
http://www.hrsa.gov/telehealth

UC Davis Center for Health and Technology
http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/cht

FCC Rural HealthCare Pilot Program
http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/rural/rhcp.html

Model for Rural Hospital Intensive Care Units for the Future May Be Here Today
http://www.csrha.org/advocate/winter08/pointofview_hahn.html

eICU Success Story
http://www.healthcareitnews.com/story.cms?id=8395

In the Press