New grant improving telemedicine services in Lynn County

Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 7:45 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - A new grant is making it easier to get health care in Lynn County, without going to the Emergency Room.

The hospital district secured a grant of more than half a million dollars to further telehealth efforts.

Melanie Richburg with the Lynn County Hospital District says thousands of tele-medicine calls were taken last year, and that number is expected to grow.

“3,100 telemedicine visits in ‘21,” Richburg said. “We’re probably gonna push to have about 5,000.”

More than $580,000 federal grant dollars have made it possible to deploy 20 interactive telemedicine carts in Lynn County and the surrounding area.

“We have to think about different ways to be available to our patients,” Richburg said. “We would have never been able to even consider doing this because of the financial impact.”

Now those telemedicine carts are in six schools, two jails, three nursing homes, and throughout the hospital system in Tahoka.

Dr. Kim Billingsley says the new technology allows patients to be served faster and without physically going to the hospital.

“They’re still hearing heart sounds and lung sounds, they’re looking in throats they’re looking in ears,” Billingsley said. “So we can keep them out of the ER and not spread something like the flu or COVID or many other things.”

USDA Rural Development State Director Lillian Salerno says this is the first grant of this kind given in Texas, part of a mission to make health care accessible in rural communities.

“For USDA this is what we’re supposed to be doing - we’re the federal government,” Salerno said. “We have a mission to make sure that people in rural communities have the same access as folks in big cities.”

Richburg says a possible next step is having remote units inside ambulances to provide an extra set of eyes and a lifeline to paramedics while on scene.