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StarLeaf can reach any provider
By Elizabeth Tanner—
Recently, the Garza County Health Care District declined to implement StarLeaf, a telemedicine program citing multiple variables making the program unviable to the community; however, Lynn County Hospital District’s CEO said the program would be beneficial to the community because it provides services to those who have limited access to care.
A grant was awarded to Lynn County Hospital District from the USDA Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program. It is to be administered by the Rural Utilities Service and prioritizes providing limited access populations a timely avenue to medical care, said Melanie Richburg, Lynn County Hospital District CEO. Such populations include children in schools, elderly in nursing homes and incarcerated inmates.
“In the era of COVID-19, protecting each of these populations from unnecessary exposure is essential,” Richburg said. “Additionally, the money spent or lost in some respects from transporting inmates and the elderly as well as parents having to leave or miss work to travel to an appointment was considered.”
In Garza County, LCHD has collaborated with multiple entities, including Post ISD schools, Post Nursing and Rehab Center and the Giles W. Dalby Correctional Facility.
“LCHD has been in collaboration with the Post school for many years as we have, until this year, hosted a Health Fair at the school,” Richburg said. “These health fairs provided an opportunity for over 20 companies that have health and safety programs to come speak to the children. Additionally, we would provide a flu shot clinic when supplies were available.”
StarLeaf, a free app that can be downloaded on any PC, iPhone or iPad, can be used to reach out to any provider, not just LCHD physicians, Richburg said.
“The only way a physician or any provider at LCHD will be notified of any patient data is if the facility initiating the call chooses a provider at LCHD,” Richburg said. “The units are not designed to just call LCHD. The vital signs, temperature, pulse, respiration and weight will not be taken by the teledoc. Those vital signs will be taken by whomever is hosting or initiating the call.”
The current program utilized by the Garza County Health Clinic is only video chat, a lesser advanced program than StarLeaf.
“The units we will put at the named locations will be so much better,” Richburg said. “They are equipped with a camera that will allow a provider to see the eyes, ears and nose just like in an actual face to face visit in the clinic. Additionally, there is a stethoscope that will allow the provider to hear heart and lung sounds. It is a very advanced exam compared to just the video chat.”
Currently, Richburg said she is visiting with senior executives at UMC that will allow collaboration for the sites that use the teledoc to be able to contact both UMC and Covenant Medical Center physicians.
“This project is in no way intended to monopolize health care in Garza County,” Richburg said.
So far, LCHD has agreements of collaboration with Dawson County Jail, Lynn County Jail, Medical Arts Hospital, O’Donnell ISD, Southland ISD, New Home ISD, Wilson ISD, Borden County ISD, Cornerstone and Tahoka ISD.