NORTHAMPTON – In an emergency, when minutes, if not seconds, matter, how can community members get care quickly from highly specialized, expert physicians?
Expanded TeleHealth programs are a benefit of Cooley Dickinson Health Care’s affiliation with Mass General, which became official on July 1, 2013. Cooley Dickinson Hospital is also working with Mass General to reduce overhead costs so CDH can keep care affordable for the community it serves. And Cooley Dickinson is benefiting from Mass General’s expertise as the organization transitions to the new world of health care: accountable care organizations and population health management.
Meanwhile, the most advanced and secure videoconferencing technology available is on standby in the Cooley Dickinson Hospital Emergency Department.
Neurologists at Mass General have used that equipment since 2011 to work with Emergency physicians at Cooley Dickinson to treat stroke patients. The TeleStroke consult ensures that patients who need it get a clot-busting drug within the tight time frame following a stroke that the medication requires. With stroke, time lost is brain lost. Early treatment can help ensure the best possible recovery.
Mass General ranks No. 4 nationally in Neurology and Neurosurgery in the U.S. News & World Reports Best Hospitals 2013–2014. Now, those nationally recognized neurosurgeons specializing in brain tumors are available at Cooley Dickinson through TeleHealth.
R. F. Conway, MD, medical director of the Cooley Dickinson Emergency Department, explained that he and his colleagues sometimes diagnose with a brain tumor patients who present in the department with severe headaches and what appear to be stroke symptoms.
With TeleHealth, a Mass General neurosurgeon who specializes in brain tumors can hear and speak with the Cooley Dickinson Emergency physician and the patient, as well as review the patient’s CT or MRI scans and other diagnostic tests. The neurosurgeon then discusses a treatment plan with the patient and, if necessary, arranges for emergency surgery.
The Mass General Sumner Redstone Burn Center offers the third TeleHealth program at Cooley Dickinson. The TeleBurns program enables 24/7 triage of patients with large and small thermal injuries, such as a burn from a cooking accident, and cold injuries, such as frostbite.
Conway said he is pleased that local emergency providers have access to the sub-specialists at Mass General who routinely treat thermal and cold injuries.
“This access to expertise will allow patients to remain local for their care in many cases, while ensuring that only patients who need a burn center will be transferred,” Conway said.
Cooley Dickinson Hospital • 30 Locust St. (Route 9), Northampton, Mass. • (413) 582-2000