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OHHS Utilizing Telehealth to Care for Nursing Home Patients

Dr. Himalaya Patcha

Ohio Hills Health Services, Barnesville, Ohio has expanded services to include tele-health for area nursing home patients. This past week, Dr. Himalaya Patcha and Dr. Ron Williamson started to use telehealth to provide medical care to area nursing homes. This transition from face to face visits to telehealth was made to keep some of our area’s most vulnerable residents safe.  Telemedicine is a great and relatively easy way to bridge the gap between the knowledge and skills the nurses at the nursing home have and the oversight patients need from doctors.

“I am incredibly pleased how smoothly this transition is going,” said Dr. Himalaya Patcha, Medical Director, Ohio Hills Health Services. “By utilizing a laptop, I can still see my patients and the nursing staff provides the vitals that I may need to make an assessment such as blood pressure, temperature and blood glucose. The nurses can also listen to the lungs and heart and they can check for swelling of the legs and neck.”

Sometimes facilities send older adults to hospitals or physician offices for consults when there is a health issue the facility cannot adequately address. However, by leveraging telehealth in these settings, these facilities are more likely to catch health issues sooner and have the ability to treat patients quickly and not risk exposing the patient to COVID-19 or other illnesses.

“We are grateful to Dr. Patcha and Dr. Williamson and to the area nursing homes for their flexibility and being willing to launch telehealth on a relatively short notice,” said Jeff Britton, CEO, Ohio Hills Health Services. “Telehealth will reduce the potential risk of exposure for the nursing home residents and for our physicians. It is a win-win situation.”

Nursing home residents are among the highest risk population as they have the most chronic health conditions. Telehealth provides quick access to a physician who can assess, evaluate, and provide guidance to the nursing staff regarding the most appropriate course of action.  Telehealth is not only for emergency situations; it's a useful tool for regular check-ins as well as treating common conditions and allows patients to have more frequent interaction with their physicians. Telehealth is not a replacement for a physician’s physical examination, but during the COVID-19 crisis telemedicine may be the best option.

Dr. Himalaya Patcha sees patients at Astoria Place, Emerald Pointe and Monroe County Care Center and Dr. Ron Williamson sees patients at the Monroe County Care Center, Brandy Woods Assisted Living and is the Medical Director at Stellar Care Center. Ohio Hills Health Services is actively exploring telehealth for medical and behavioral health patients. For additional information call OHHS at 740-239-OHHS.