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(Denison, IA) – With the assistance of a grant received by Rolling Hills Community Services, Crawford County Memorial Hospital (CCMH) will soon be adding telemedicine to the menu of services it offers through its Emergency department. Specifically, CCMH is adding telepsychiatry delivered by Integrated Telehealth Partners (ITP) of West Des Moines. ITP already provides emergency telepsychiatry service to 42 other hospitals in Iowa on a 24-hour a day, 7 days a week basis.

Erin Muck, Chief Nursing Office for CCMH, explained that Rolling Hills is a behavioral health coalition in western Iowa that includes the counties of Buena Vista, Carroll, Calhoun, Cherokee, Crawford, Ida and Sac.

“We are very grateful for the work being done by Rolling Hills. Being able to access the psychiatry services offered by Integrated Telehealth Partners will assist our Emergency department staff to more effectively meet the needs of patients with behavioral and mental health issues,” Muck said.

Based on statistics provided by CCMH, it is anticipated that an average of 15 patients per month will access the telepsychiatry services in the ER. Muck noted that currently CCMH has to hold patients needing placement until a psychiatric bed is available in another facility.

“To assure patient safety, we have had to keep patients locally for an extended period of time waiting for them to receive psychiatric treatment. This can extend up to a week or more,” Muck explained. “The ability to offer a patient timely consultation and faster access to psychiatric treatment is a huge step forward in addressing this issue.”

Muck noted that CCMH, according to the proposed agreement, will provide a laptop computer with a web camera, external microphone, and high-speed internet connection to access the services with ITP.

“Once the contract has been signed with ITP, and the technical requirements have been met, we will work with ITP to credential the psychiatric providers, undergo training with CCMH Emergency department staff, and test the system to make sure it works properly,” Muck commented.

Muck said the expectation is to begin offering telepsychiatry in the Emergency department sometime later in the spring.