No longer will emergency room doctors at Conway Medical Center have to phone doctors at the Medical University of South Carolina to describe the condition of a sick child or immediately hustle them by helicopter or ambulance to Charleston.
Instead MUSC specialists in Charleston will be able to see and hear how a patient is doing in Conway, thanks to new technology paid for by a grant from the Duke Endowment.
The first of its kind Pediatric Critical Care Telemedicine cart allows young, critical patients to get the help they need and allows the doctors to get the information they need without ever leaving a patient’s bedside.
“Before, a doctor here in Conway would have to call a specialist at MUSC to talk over an issue with a patient. That meant the doctor was leaving the bedside of a patient and trying to describe what could be a complicated issue over the phone,” said David McSwain, a MUSC pediatric critical care physician who invented the cart. “With this cart, the doctor will be able to stay at the bedside and the physicians on the other end at MUSC will be able to see the patient and the issue.”
The new technology will also keep patients and their families in their own communities longer while continuing to get the same quality of care.
“If we can keep people in their own community where their support network is, it relieves a lot of undue stress on the family and the caretaker,” McSwain said.
The movable cart features a television screen, web cam, video camera, stethoscope and laptop with programs all suited to communicate with MUSC.
A doctor can take a screenshot of a wound or part of the body and allow doctors in Charleston to analyze it.
Information from ultrasounds, x-rays and other medical tests can also be transmitted using the cart.
“Anything that specialists will need to see will be available to them in real time using the cart,” McSwain said.
Charles Tarbert, medical director of CMC emergency room, said the new technology will benefit the entire community.
“We don’t have a pediatric intensive care physician here and so this machine allows us to consult with doctors at MUSC in real time,” he said. “It will also allow us to keep the patient locally and that will benefit everyone, especially the family.”
Preston Strosnider, vice president of medical affairs at Conway Medical Center, said getting the cart was a no brainer for the hospital.
“I was contacted about 15 months ago to see if we were interested in having the cart and told them ‘why wouldn’t we want it,’ ” he said. “We are excited and ready to build on our relationship with MUSC and to connect with specialists that will help our patients.”
Brooke Yeager, program coordinator at MUSC, said the cart cost $36,000 and will also be available at Georgetown Memorial Ho spital, Waccamaw Hospital and Colleton Medical Center in Walterboro.
“We wanted to be able to connect community hospitals with the specialists at MUSC in real time and this cart can do that,” she said.