Malone – Two UVM Health Network – Alice Hyde Medical Center employees have been recognized for their work connecting patients with health care services using telehealth technology during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pair – Tiffany King and Darcy Fournier, both office managers and members of Alice Hyde’s Outpatient Medical Services team – were honored as 2020 Telehealth Hospital Innovators on Tuesday, by North Country Telehealth Partnership. The group’s annual conference was held virtually due to the ongoing public health emergency.

King and Fournier were nominated for their work developing and implementing Alice Hyde’s Curbside Telehealth program, which allows patients who have limited access to technology and internet service to use hospital equipment while conducting video visits with primary care and specialty health care providers. The hospital launched its telehealth program in March, shortly after the pandemic began, and its curbside program was developed shortly thereafter. Since the pandemic began, Alice Hyde has conducted more than 350 curbside telehealth visits, and more than 4,000 telehealth visits overall.

The pair said developing and implementing Alice Hyde’s telehealth program was a team effort that included the hospital’s IT Department, clinic and office staff members, and Alice Hyde’s medical staff. “We knew we had to implement the curbside telehealth as quickly and efficiently as possible,” said Fournier. “I am proud to be a part of this team, which ensures that our community is taken care of.”

King and Fournier worked to overcome technological and environmental challenges while getting the program up and running – addressing issues like connectivity problems in clinic parking lots and road noise, to give patients the ability to interact with their providers remotely and still receive high-quality care. The OPMS team even worked with other hospitals to allow their patients to use the program – a task which took considerable time because the organizations use different electronic systems for patient health recor\ds.

“Our goal was to give quality care and support to our patients on both a clinical and personal level,” said King. “These virtual face-to-face visits assisted providers in managing their patients’ chronic and acute needs, along with reassuring and educating them on COVID-19.”

King and Fournier say they see telehealth technology continuing to positively impact the region’s health care services, as the program grows and develops moving forward.

“I think it’s going to increase access, increase availability to specialties that patients normally wouldn’t have access to without traveling,” said Fournier.

“We have just scratched the surface of what telehealth can offer our community,” said King. “I’m excited to see how we integrate and implement (telehealth) in other services now that we’ve breathed life into the program.”

North Country Telehealth Partnership is a collaborative initiative of Adirondack Health Institute and Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization. The partnership is focused on increasing access to health care through the innovative use of telehealth and telemedicine technology. The partnership covers an 11-county region of northern New York, with the goal of growing telehealth adoption, implementation and utilization.

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