Nurses to the Rescue Via Virtual Clinics
Residents of Wolfe and Powell County in Kentucky have very limited access to primary care services, and long drives to access specialists who can meet their health needs. With its leveraged SIF funding from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, St. Joseph Health System is addressing this issue by establishing two virtual primary care delivery clinics to provide primary care services in these rural areas.
These primary care clinics will be managed by Advanced Practice Registered Nurses and will use telemedicine technology to links patients to at least 11 specialty physicians and other healthcare professionals, including mental health providers, orthopedists, dermatologists, OB/GYNs, and neurologists. These clinics will ensure that patients receive the appropriate level of health services close to home. St. Josephs hopes to reach a goal of 7,000 clinic visits a year.
When the St. Joseph Health System proposed Advanced Practice Registered Nurse managed clinics with telemedicine capacity in these counties, they had no particular location in mind for the clinics. However, because of the enthusiastic collaboration among community members who are grateful to have primary care services, they have not only found homes for the clinics, but have also forged relationships with the local schools and health department.
As a result, they will be expanding their services to include patient and family education, nutrition and diabetes counseling, professional continuing education for health providers and school counselors, and support sessions for chronically ill residents.
St. Joseph is also integrating primary care and mental health services. They have been invited to use space in a new facility that provides mental health services and this has been a catalyst for them to work at the state level on support for an integrative model of care.