Abbeville Area Medical Center is remotely located, over an hour from two larger South Carolina hubs, Greenville and Columbia. Inside the hospital, there are less than 25 beds. Remote access and quantity of beds quailify Abbeville Area Medical Center as a Critical Access Hospital (CAH), making it one of five in South Carolina.
Even though this hospital provides emergent care 24/7, it is unfeasible to staff certain specialists full-time for services that are seldom needed, like a psychiatrist.
With the advent of telehealth growth in South Carolina, the Abbeville Area Medical Center began using telehealth in 2016 to connect emergency room behavorial health patients to psychiatrists. A patient might wait days to see a specialist before telehealth, whereas with video conferencing, a patient can connect at any time, offering more immediate care.
Their telehealth initiative is made possible from a grant recieved by the Department of Mental Health. The partnership subsidizes telehealth equiptment for the emergency room, and allows Abbeville Area Medical Center to use telehealth for telepsychiatry, as well other telehealth services in the future.