Two hundred sixty volunteers from the University of Virginia Health System filled a tractor trailer and personal vehicles with medical supplies and drove 300 miles to Southwest Virginia to transform the fairgrounds into a scaled-down hospital. Thousands of people were able to receive free medical dental and vision care at the 2010 Wise Remote Area Medical (RAM) clinic.
UVA along with many other organizations provided patients with free access to specialty care and technologies normally only available through hospitals. Patients were able to receive emergency care, mammograms, ECGs, ultrasounds, chest x-rays, neurosurgery consultations, bone density testing, diabetes management, plus access was provide via telemedicine to other specialists at UVA.
Michael Harper, MD Medical Director of the remote clinic said “In the past several years, we’ve been able to bring some technology to this environment. One of our cardiologists was really surprised when he got an echocardiogram done in less than 15 minutes, which is not easy to do in some hospitals.”
The high-tech care is helped in part by donations from the Verizon Foundation, which for the past eight years has provided an estimated $100,000 in grants and broadband connections for the Wise RAM. Verizon installed T1 broadband lines to enable volunteers to access the internet and send mammograms back to the UVA Medical Center.
Three years ago, UVA began using its patient registration system at the Wise RAM to create an electronic medical record for each patient. Verizon awarded $88,537 in grants to support the system including two grants in 2007 and one recent grant for $20,000.
According to Eugene Sullivan, Director of UVA’s Office of Telemedicine, “Any UVA clinician can look up what treatments a patient received at last year’s RAM.” Sullivan added that in 2009, UVA clinicians provided more than 6,500 direct patient encounters in Southwest Virginia in addition to the 5,600 patient encounters at the RAM clinic in Wise.