PIGGOTT, AR (KAIT) - Piggott Community Hospital received a $110,000 grant from the Blue and You Foundation of Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
The money is going to help initiate a new telemedicine program for the hospital. The hospital director said this type of program is the new frontier for rural medicine and has already helped save a number of lives.
Dr. Gary Dehls suffered a stroke and said he is thankful for the equipment.
"Well to me it was a lifesaver," Dehls said. "I found myself floating around. I couldn't control it, and my son came in and kept me from drowning."
Because of a two-way camera at Piggott Community Hospital, a doctor in Little Rock was able to give doctors in Piggott the OK to give Dehls the medicine he needed to dissolve the clot in his brain.
"If you can get the right medicines properly then you have a 120% better chance of recovering," Dehls said.
He recovered from the stroke and with the $110,000 grant, telemedicine will expand to help others in the Piggott area.
"Other specialties and also expanding the location to include some of our clinics and possibly even nursing homes, as well," James Magee, Executive Director for Piggott Community Hospital, said.
Magee said access to specialty health care in rural areas is hard to come by and that is why telemedicine is the future of rural health care.
"You know transportation for a lot, especially our elderly patients, is a real problem," Magee said. "For them to be able to see that specialty doctor locally via telemedicine would be a great advantage."
The grant will expand the existing program beyond just specialty treatment for strokes and burns. Magee said he hopes to have a cardiology program running through telemedicine soon.
Dehls said this equipment helped him and so many others.
"I don't know what this whole two county area would do without this hospital," Dehls said.
Magee said Piggott Community Hospital has seen many miracles in the case of recovery thanks to telemedicine.
He said he believes the expansion of this program will only allow them to help even more people that deserve exceptional healthcare.