If the ‘doctor is not in’, some Med Center Albany patients can visit a physician through Telehealth

Posted July 25, 2018 at 1:06 pm


The Med Center Albany has a program it has been using since February that will greatly benefit those in Clinton County and surrounding counties.

The Senior Perspectives program in Albany is now using Telehealth for the mental health services and counseling for its patients.

Program Director Rodney Huff said the program will be a great asset to the hospital because it can provide a service to many not only in the county, but in surrounding counties as well.

Dr. Sasa Strunjas was the first MD at the Medical Center at Bowling Green to use this method of patient care. Now, an APRN is also completing her visits using this method.

According to a spokesperson at The Med Center, not only is this program saving money since the providers do not have to drive to other hospitals, it also allows patients to be admitted to the program on days that are not designated as “Dr. Days,” allowing a faster service.

The Telehealth program has become a tool used in many hospitals across the nation. It consists of a teleconference between a patient and a doctor via a computer and Internet connection.

“It’s basically a video conferencing call and it works great,” Huff said. “We have a scheduled day and what happens is I send the doctor a patient list and once they are here we do a sign in/sign out kind of thing. The machine is is really simple to use.”

Huff said each patient will be accompanied by an RN. Each patient is usually picked up from their residence or from the nursing home and dropped back off once their appointment is completed.

“We require an appointment once a month,” Huff said. “I think it does help some of the patients to get them out and see the sunshine and to socialize. Some people, when they get depressed, they lock themselves up in the house, well, this gets them out of the house. Once they get here they are getting therapy by mental health professionals.

During the visit to the Senior Perspectives Program, Huff said they feed each patient lunch and have snacks as a part of the program’s directive.

“Sometimes this may be the only hot meal they get in a couple of day. You don’t know what their home life is so it’s a day for them to get out,” Huff said.

“Patients can get refereed to us by a health care provider, family member, doctor’s office, nursing home, friend or anybody. They just call us and I will set up an appointment to see the patient, either at their home or wherever they are at. I do an intake, which is an interview, and see what’s going on with them,” Huff said. “I will get their medical history, medication list and I gather all that up and bring it in and present it to the doctor.”

Huff said the doctor for the program still makes monthly visits to the hospital, but the Telehealth program will allow patients to be seen during the in-between times the doctor is scheduled to be on site.

“It’s mainly for patients who have something going on and really need to see a doctor,” Huff said. “That’s what it’s geared for … ease and access. With technology today, they use this in all kinds of realms of the healthcare industry. I’ve seen this technology in ERs and you could bring a specialist in any form in. There are tons of uses for this and we are fortunate to have it here in our department.”

Huff said most of the patients have accepted the program and are on board with using the technology to meet with a doctor.

The Senior Perspectives Program is an outpatient counseling service and provides mental health services and emotional support for patients.

The program can create and maintain strong social relationships, teach patients to accept and let go of painful experiences, help patients to learn and grow, and to rediscover their strengths.

The service can also provide individual and group counseling for older adults and their families, medication management and evaluations and will work as a team with the patients and each patient’s primary care physician.

“They bring all kinds of specialist here and we are just an added program to the hospital,” Huff said. “We’ve been here for nine years and they kept us on as a community program. There’s not a program like ours in the surrounding area.”

Program Director Rodney Huff talked with Nurse Practitioner Tanya Bush before Tuesday’s Telehealth session at The Medical Center Albany, using the same equipment that a patient would use during a Telehealth visit with a physician.