|Vol. 24, No. 16||September 1, 2002|
Pediatric Clinics “Link” to Hospital Emergency Center
By JENNIFER HART
Texas Children’s Hospital
Three clinics that are part of the Texas Children’s Pediatric Associates corporation, in collaboration with Texas Children’s Hospital, have received a telemedicine grant that will allow the clinics to “link up” with the hospital’s Gordon Emergency Center.The clinics are part of Texas Children’s Pediatric Associates, a subsidiary of Texas Children’s Hospital Integrated Delivery System, a nonprofit health corporation with nearly 50 practices and more than 130 pediatricians throughout the Houston area.
The link will allow physicians practicing thee inner-city clinics to consult with Texas Children’s Hospital physicians by videoconferencing.
The $180,000 grant from the Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund Board, along with $18,000 in matching funds from Texas Children’s Pediatric Associates, enables patients to seek primary care within five miles of their homes, said Dr. Larry Jefferson, medical director of the Texas Children’s Center for TeleHealth and associate professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine. Grant funds also will be used to narrow the ‘digital divide’ by providing Internet access to underserved communities, Jefferson said.
Specialists at Texas Children’s say the program will reduce unnecessary visits to the emergency center while allowing patients to receive the best care available. Patients and families also may visit designated Texas Children’s Pediatric Associates centers to access computers with medical information Web sites using a high-speed digital subscriber line Internet connection.
Three inner-loop clinics - Cullen Pediatric and Adolescent Health Center, Monmouth Pediatric Associates and Ripley House Pediatrics - each will be linked by a dedicated T1 circuit to the emergency center using a multi-point control unit to integrate multiple sites. A T1 circuit is a dedicated line that provides a point-to-point connection, ensuring patient privacy when physicians are conducting a teleconsultation.
“This project will significantly strengthen the development of Texas Children’s Pediatric Associates clinics as community resources and redirect families to seek primary care close to home,” said Ayse McCracken, president of Texas Children’s Pediatric Associates. “It also will enable Texas Children’s partners to evaluate various telemedicine applications in support of remote users; enhance the hospital’s capability to provide meaningful faculty development; and improve Internet access to health information sites for patients and families at collaborating clinics.”
Last year, 26,748 children sought primary care at the Texas Children’s Gordon Emergency Center. Of these, 43 percent (11,377) live within a five-mile radius of one of the collaborating Texas Children’s Pediatric Associates clinics.
The grant is the second Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund Board award for telemedicine received by Texas Children’s in two years.
In April 2000, Texas Children’s Hospital received a Public Health Technology Advancement Collaborative grant from the Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund Board to increase delivery of pediatric patient care, education and research by linking Texas Children’s Hospital to Texas Children’s Health Centers in Sugar Land, Clear Lake, Northwest and West Houston.
“In addition, the Texas Children’s Center for TeleHealth has grown to include services such as collaborations between doctors at Texas Children’s Cancer Center and an affiliate center, the Vannie E. Cook Cancer Center in McAllen, Texas,” said Jefferson.
“The grant allows us to expand our telemedicine infrastructure and reach underserved inner-city families,” said Victor Manes, director of international operations at Texas Children’s. “It represents the culmination of efforts to form an inter-institutional telemedicine group, consolidate ideas and design a mutually beneficial collaboration.”
The Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund Board is a state agency that seeks to deploy an advanced telecommunications infrastructure by stimulating connectivity for public schools, higher education, public libraries and nonprofit healthcare facilities.
©2006 Texas Medical Center