AR Trauma Network Now Using Telemedicine

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - An Arkansas trauma network has a new life-saving tool that allows emergency crews a faster way to connect with doctors.

It's the latest example of the use of telemedicine in The Natural State.

For one coordinator at the Arkansas Trauma Communications Center in Little Rock, it's a game changer as she works to assist paramedics and emergency medical services across the state.

"Naturally your heart your heart races and sinks when that phone rings again because you never know what it's going to be," says Kat Jendrejas, Trauma Coordinator.

She tells those ambulance drivers what hospital is the best place to go to serve their patient.

And when things go from bad to worse, trauma coordinators make their own call to a doctor. It's more of a video connection than a phone call.

"The uniqueness of us is getting the right patient to the right hospital at the right time," explains Jeff Tabor, Program Manager for Arkansas Trauma Communications Center.

He says with the ability to call a doctor via video, it's saving patients time, money and their lives.

"We were flying people to Lousiville, St. Louis, Dallas, Oklahoma City," he continues. 

Here's how telemedicine works: Once an ambulance service from anywhere in Arkansas gets a patient to a hospital they can connect via video with a surgeon on call and decide if immediate surgery is needed.

"Year to date, 649 hand trauma patients. Only 37 percent have transported to second hospital and zero have left our state," Tabor says.

All said and done it's saving Arkansans millions of dollars by decreasing flights, ground transports and extra hospital bills.

"It's a lot easier for us to go home on good days like that when we know we've made a difference," Jendrejas says.

Trauma Comm says while telemedicine only serves burn and hand patients now, they hope to add facial, eye and head trauma soon.

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