SARANAC LAKE - The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded a $112,860 grant to Adirondack Medical Center, a member of Adirondack Health, to implement a telemedicine network connecting its main hospital in Saranac Lake with satellite clinics in nearby rural areas, U.S. Rep. Bill Owens announced Thursday.
"As we work together to lower the overall cost of health care for patients and providers, promoting telemedicine programs like the one here at Adirondack Medical Center is a step in the right direction," Owens said in a press release. "I would like to thank the folks at AMC for the hard work done not only to secure this grant, but for working everyday to improve the quality of care patients receive in Franklin and Essex Counties."
Implementation of the telemedicine network at Adirondack Medical Center includes setting up new video end points to extend the hospital's medical services to patients in the North Country who do not currently have access to the facility's services. The network will allow rural clinicians to visually consult with medical specialists at the hospital, to synchronize patient information between sites, and to realize cost-savings at every point in the process, especially travel costs for patients.
For example, this virtual connection will allow a nurse at either of Adirondack Health's nursing homes - Uihlein Living Center and Mercy Living Center - to consult with the AMC-Saranac Lake emergency department if a resident is experiencing complications. A routine hospital visit can also be a stressful or exhausting experience for a nursing home resident who may be elderly or frail. The telemedicine connection with the emergency department will help medical staff determine if a health concern can be managed at the nursing home.
"As we all know there are many challenges for health care providers in a rural area such as ours," Adirondack Health President and CEO Chandler Ralph said in the release. "Nevertheless, we are committed to overcoming those challenges to maintain the level of sophisticated and compassionate care our community expects and deserves. This telemedicine project is yet another example of overcoming obstacles to meet the needs of our patients and Living Center residents."
Initially, the technology will be used among Adirondack Health's facilities. As the system develops, the organization plans to broaden the telemedicine network to include regional connections to provide specialty services not available locally. This could eliminate some of the inconvenience and cost of travel to other medical facilities for Tri-Lakes residents.
Adirondack Medical Center is a member of Adirondack Health, which includes Living Centers in Lake Placid and Tupper Lake, health centers in Keene, Lake Placid and Tupper Lake, and a dental clinic in Lake Placid.