HealthAlliance system will bring doctors, patients together from afar
KINGSTON >> HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley plans to embark on an initiative that will allow medical caregivers and psychiatrists to communicate from remote locations with some patients via computer.
David Scarpino, chief executive officer and president of HealthAlliance, said Monday that the initiative, known as “telemedicine” or “E-Health,” will be launched within the next month or two.
“We are just getting the equipment we need and establishing protocols, and we will roll it out very soon,” Scarpino said.
Scarpino spoke about the telemedicine launch during an interview at the Freeman office that was streamed live on the newspaper’s website. Scarpino was accompanied by Josh Ratner, chief strategy officer for HealthAlliance.
HealthAlliance, which was
taken over earlier this year by the Westchester Medical Center Heath Center, operates the two hospitals in Kingston — one on Broadway, the other on Mary’s Avenue — and Margaretville Community Hospital in Delaware County. HealthAlliance plans to consolidate all of its hospital services in Kingston into the Mary’s Avenue building (formerly called Benedictine Hospital) and turn the Broadway building (formerly Kingston Hospital) into a “medical
village” that will offer a variety of health services.
Scarpino said Westchester Medical already has a telemedicine service, making it easier to bring the service to Kingston.
“This is a tremendous benefit of having an affiliation,” Scarpino said. “It brings technology.”
He said the telemedicine service will be offered on an outpatient basis at first until new rules are adopted by the state Health Department regarding inpatient service.
Scarpino said HealthAlliance’s foray into telemedicine is being fueled, in part, by its continuing struggle to keep staff psychiatrists
at the Margaretville hospital. He said the hospital has no psychiatrists on staff at a time when Delaware County has the highest teenage suicide rate in New York state.
Once the telemedicine system is fully up and running, Scarpino said, teens and other patients will be able to communicate with psychiatrists from a distance while at Margaretville Hospital, as well as the Kingston locations.
“You are linking scarce resources to need through telemedicine,” he said.
Ratner said that with telemedicince, HealthAlliance will be “able to keep folks local where
it is possible, and if not, try to keep them in the system.”
Scarpino said the telemedicine mechanism already in place at Westchester Medical Center has reduced appointment cancellations from 30 percent to under 10 percent.
Eventually, Scarpino said, the telemedicine program will be expanded to include areas other than psychiatry.
HealthAlliance spokesman Gerry Harrington said a total of 14 telemedicine units will be purchased for the three hospitals in Kingston and Margaretville at a cost of $16,000 each.
HealthAlliance President and Chief Executive Officer David Scarpino, right, speaks Monday during an interview at the Freeman office in Kingston. At left is HealthAlliance Chief Strategy Officer Josh Ratner.