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Telehealth Critical Care Pulmonology allows patients to stay close to home

(Editor’s Note: This the third in a five-part series focusing on new services at Whitfield Regional Hospital.)

With the addition of telehealth critical care pulmonology, Whitfield Regional Hospital is now able to provide specialist care to patients in the intensive care unit in Demopolis throughout recovery, allowing patients to stay closer to home and family members an easier time staying by their side.

Transfers will still occur at the benefit of the patient’s health, such as when a special procedure or surgery is necessary.

Dr. William Stigler

Care is provided by a team of nurses, hospitalists, other physicians and a telehealth critical care pulmonologist. On-site and telehealth staff conduct assessments of patients, and the pulmonologist follows the patient hour-by-hour along with the WRH staff.

“They’re seeing a huge volume of these complex cases, so they’re really at the top of their game,” WRH CEO Doug Brewer said of the critical care pulmonologists partnering with Whitfield Regional.

Dr. William Stigler, critical care pulmonologist with the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital, said communication with WRH staff, family members and, if possible, the patient will play a big role in the care of the patient by providing any additional information and physically monitoring the status of the patient.

In addition to working with hospitalists and nursing staff, Stigler said the critical care pulmonologist may provide care for the patient in conjunction with other specialists, including telehealth specialists, depending on the patient’s reason for admittance.

Despite the higher level of care a critically ill patient would require, Stigler said he’s never been impeded by the telehealth system.

“I’ve never felt that my assessment of a patient has been limited by not being physically present,” he said.

Follow-up assessments depend on a patient’s condition but will occur at least once every day, and the specialist will be available to the nursing staff and hospitalists if they request additional assessments.

The patient and family will also be able to ask questions and discuss any concerns with the critical care pulmonologist throughout treatment.

(This article originally appeared in the Wednesday, August 28 issue of the Demopolis Times.)