Doctors are available during normal business hours at most nursing homes. But medical issues can happen at any time, and vulnerable elderly patients still need to be seen as soon as possible.
“Before telehealth, we’d have to call the physician, tell them what was going on, and then immediately we would just send [the patient] out to the hospital,” said Mary Guillaume, a registered nurse and staff development coordinator at The Village at Summerville, an assisted living community in the Lowcountry.
But those hospitals visits are frequently preventable, according to Dr. Russ Blackwelder, the facility’s associate medical director. He says they use a telehealth cart several times a month to have a doctor assess a resident through live video, and it often keeps the resident where they’d rather be, at home.
"About a quarter of what we do is keeping people out of the hospital," said Dr. Blackwelder.