Grant Gives Doctors New Way To See Patients - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Grant Gives Doctors New Way To See Patients

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KALISPELL -

Kalispell Regional Medical Center received a pretty big grant to help treat patients remotely.

They got a grant of more than $300,000 from the US Department of Agriculture for its telemedicine program.

It's mostly going to go buy telemedicine machines, which allow doctors in Kalispell to see and hear patients who aren't able to come to the hospital.

"With a stroke, time is brain. It's critical to make a decision about treatment options immediately or you lose precious brain cells," said Pat Wilson, the director of educational services at Kalispell Regional Healthcare.

For the seven doctors in Kalispell who are a part of the telemedicine program, all you need is an iPad. You can tap the screen and move the camera yourself. You can even zoom in so you can see patients more clearly.

"Montana's unique in that it is so rural. We think of Kalispell as the big metropolitan area, right, and anybody else in the country would laugh at that," explained Dr. Kurt Lindsay, one of the doctors who sees patients using an iPad.

This system would stitch together rural areas into a high speed system.

There are already telemedicine machines in Libby, Ronan, and Plains.

Between Libby and Kalispell, a high speed fiber optic network can send a CT scan image in minutes.

This can come in handy because some medicines have to be taken very soon after symptoms manifest.

Dr. Lindsay says they get calls about once a week.

"We can be at our kids soccer game, you can be out to dinner and still step out, do the consult, take care of the patient. Fifteen minutes later you can be back watching your kid play soccer," said Dr. Lindsay.

Each machine costs more than $60,000. With the three year grant, they're hoping to buy three more in the first year and eventually get up to seven new ones.

Montana is one of twenty-five states to get this grant and KRMC is the only recipient in big sky country.

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