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King’s Daughters Medical Center: Paving the Way for Tele‐​Pulmonology at Rural Hospitals

A pulmonologist in Jackson provides coverage from 60 miles away

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Based in rural Brookhaven, MS, King’s Daughters Medical Center (KDMC) has been nationally recognized for quality patient care by organizations like CMS and HealthGrades. Despite these accolades, KDMC’s team of 39 physicians was often stretched thin caring for the 29,000 ER visits each year. And without dedicated neurologists and pulmonologists onsite, many patients were transferred to St. Dominic Hospital in Jackson, MS.

In 2014, KDMC joined St. Dominic’s telehealth network, with the primary focus being on telestroke — providing KDMC with remote access to St. Dominic neurologists. With the rapid success of the telestroke program, KDMC drove the expansion of telemedicine into another vital medical specialty: pulmonology.

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Mississippi has the highest rate of adult obesity and the third highest smoking rate in the country. As a result, a large proportion of KDMC’s patient population suffer from respiratory diseases, including Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

Today, KDMC incorporates telemedicine into pulmonology rounds, remotely connecting patients with a dedicated pulmonologist in Jackson, MS. Not only has the tele‐​pulmonology program allowed KDMC to keep more patients onsite, but it has also shortened patients’ lengths of stays and improved ventilator management.

KDMC is leading the way for other small rural hospitals by proving the value of telemedicine across service lines.

In smaller healthcare settings, we can’t have the physical presence of every type of specialist onsite. To provide high levels of patient care seamlessly, telemedicine must become the standard of care.” — Dr. Jeffrey Ross, director of inpatient medicine and chief medical officer, KDMC.

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