UM Shore Regional Health Treats First Pediatric Patient Using Telemedicine Technology
In mid-March, Jayion Thomas, a 22-month old boy from Greensboro in Caroline County, was the first pediatric patient to be treated using telemedicine technology at University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Easton. Jayion was brought to the Emergency Department at UM SMC at Easton due to seizure activity caused by high body temperature. According to Jayion's mother, Tecoy Chesley, the toddler has experienced high temperatures since birth and as a result, has suffered numerous seizures, beginning at four months of age.
Telemedicine is a form of telehealth which utilizes telecommunications and related technologies such as audio-video conferencing, remote image viewing and capturing and use of remote examination tools to support health care services, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration.
UM SRH utilizes Yorktel telehealth carts, a leading global provider of unified communications & collaboration (UC&C) equipment. This cart is wheeled into the patient's room where a physician from another site is then connected to the cart and able to visually see the patient while conversing with them through a built in microphone. Yorktel designs, implements and maintains the equipment required for telehealth encounters, as well as monitors the entire telehealth network ensuring that it is available when and where patient care is needed.
A significant advantage of telemedicine, especially in rural areas, is offering access to physicians and various medical specialists who can offer support to a patient who might otherwise have to be transferred to another hospital to receive the necessary care. In Jayion's case, UM SMC at Easton is located approximately 70 miles – more than 90 minutes of traveling including a trip across the Bay Bridge – from the University of Maryland Children's Hospital in downtown Baltimore at the University of Maryland Medical Center, the University of Maryland Medical System's academic medical center.
UMMS eCare and the University of Maryland School of Medicine collaborate with UM Shore Regional Health to offer telemedicine to patients in an effort to provide them with the right care, close to home.
At UM Shore Medical Center at Easton, Norbert Straub, MD, consulted via telehealth with Getachew Teshome, MD, MPH, assistant professor at the UM School of Medicine and medical director of UMMC's Pediatric Emergency Department, in downtown Baltimore to establish the most effective treatment plan for Jayion, which included addressing his immediate health issues as well as referring him to neurology, asthma, and allergy specialists for further testing and care.
"Being able to consult with colleagues, regardless of physical location, and deliver the best plan for our patients is a huge advantage of the telemedicine technology," says Walter Atha, MD, FACEP, regional director, Emergency Medicine at UM SRH. "This is the direction in which health care is heading and will be vital to rural communities such as the ones here on the Eastern Shore of Maryland."
"Bridging the gap between the eastern and western shores without having to transfer a patient is a wonderful opportunity that this technology has given us," says Marc T. Zubrow, MD, vice president of telemedicine for the University of Maryland Medical System. "We will continue to enhance and expand the telemedicine capabilities for patients such as Jayion, which allow patients to receive the expert care they need without having to leave their local communities and support systems."
"Jayion is very busy, loving and outgoing – it takes a lot to get him down," says Chesley. "Because of the telemedicine system, I was able to obtain for my son the care he needed at the time he needed it most, plus a referral for follow-up care, and I was able to ask questions of both a local emergency physician and a Baltimore-based physician without ever having to leave the emergency department in Easton."
UM Shore Regional Health staff stand alongside the first pediatric patient treated with telemedicine technology at UM SMC at Easton. (left to right) Missy Swartz, BSN, RN, clinical coordinator, UM SMC at Easton, Jayion Thomas, Tecoy Cheslea and Renee Edsall, MSN, RN, CCRN, professional nursing practice specialist, Emergency Services.