Senator visits Ruleville
by Jack Criss
The Bolivar Bullet
On Thursday, April 1, Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker, joined by the Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, Brendan Carr, made a special visit to North Sunflower Medical Center in Ruleville to recognize the success of the hospital’s Remote Patient Access/Telehealth program.
“North Sunflower Medical Center participated with the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson in a diabetes telemedicine initiative, inviting our most at-risk diabetes patients to participate,” said Joanie Perkins, Chief Compliance Officer for NSMC. “CSpire and General Electric were on board as corporate partners when we began this pilot program in 2015 and we did all of this initially without any grants or funding: C Spire provided the connectivity, GE gave us tablets and NSMC and UMMC did our part with finding the patients to take part.”
After two years of the program, Perkins said the end results were excellent.
“When our patients had the resource of remote monitoring and total access to a primary care provider their health and numbers improved greatly. We’re pleased now that the bar has been set pretty high for future such projects. Close to 190 diabetes patients participated in the program and, again, the results were tremendous: they lowered their A1C scores, which is the prime indicator of how bad the diabetes is in a given person, by more than one full point which equals longer life and better health. None of our patients in the program were ever admitted to the hospital for problems or complications–the patients stayed healthier. Their being monitored, uploading their blood sugar numbers every day, and having resources available to them at any time led to their improved health,” said Perkins.
“Senator Wicker was aware of our program and he invited the new FCC Commissioner, Brendan Carr, to come and see how connectivity and telehealth truly helps patients in 2018. Senator Wicker specifically touted NSMC and Ruleville to Commissioner Carr and relayed our success to him directly. As a result, Commissioner Carr was able to take our findings–and even meet with many of our patients when he first came down in 2018–and share these statistics and patient stories across the country which led to his securing funds for other communities to engage in similar telehealth projects.”
Perkins said NSMC has now applied for this FCC funding to continue the program.
“There’s no doubt we need to continue this important initiative,” she said. “But, we must have the funding in place to provide our patients the necessary prerequisites to take part–the computers, technology and so forth. We sincerely appreciate Senator Wicker and Commissioner Carr’s enthusiasm and support for what has been accomplished thus far.”