‘TELEMEDICINE’

HealthAl­liance sys­tem will bring doc­tors, pa­tients to­gether from afar

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Paul Kirby pkirby@free­manon­line.com paulat­free­man on Twitter

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.

TA­NIA BARRICKLO — DAILY FREE­MAN

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.

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