By Lori Lyn Lirio
TO provide clinical services with service veterans and others in need of medical services in far flung areas, the Kagman Community Health Center has started collaborating with Veterans Affairs Pacific Islands Health Care System via the telehealth system.
In a phone interview, KCHC Chief Executive Officer Vince Castro said they signed a memorandum of understanding with the Veterans Affairs last May 17. He said the MoU allows them to collaborate with VAPIHCS which recognizes the necessity to expand clinical services through interactive consultation.
“It will effectively address the critical needs and challenges facing veterans in the CNMI where access to VA services is limited,” Castro said.
He added the telehealth equipment was installed in the health center in June and they are readying to launch services this month.
VAPIHCS, according to Castro, has professional staff dedicated to providing telehealth clinical services, including primary care, mental health, and clinical pharmacy specialist services.
Under the telehealth setup, Castro said health services will be extended to veterans who live in rural or extremely rural area; who are located in area lacking VA facilities, including limited access to broadband or cellular connections; and whose locations have limited capabilities to provide clinical resources.
According to Castro, the telehealth is not limited to veterans as KCHC also plans on accessing the clinical services to its entire population.
“VAPIHCS and KCHC intend to focus initial engagement and collaboration on mental health clinical services. Potential focal points that could be utilized for activities under this MoU include, integrated mental health services; primary care services; and clinical pharmacy specialist services,” he said.
Recently, the KCHC made a dry run on the telehealth.
“We helped the patient contact the physician and we at KCHC are basically working with the doctor,” he said.
Castro explained the telehealth system allows the specialist physicians to treat their patients remotely via real-time interactive communication.
“Right now we are sending people off island to see a specialist. Hopefully, we would diagnose them here through telehealth so patients don’t have to travel off island,” Castro said earlier.
KCHC would facilitate the interactive communication of a patient and the specialist doctor.