Supporting Access to Care for Hurricane Harvey Victims

September 6, 2017 By InTouch Health

When disaster strikes, it’s all hands on deck. This was the case when Hurricane Harvey struck Houston and the surrounding Gulf area. Many hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities were impacted by flooding, evacuations, or a shortage of clinicians who weren’t able to get to their patients due to the storm.

One rural community hospital in particular, located 30 minutes southwest of Houston and surrounded by the Brazos River, needed help. OakBend Medical Center in Richmond, TX didn’t have access to its neurologist coverage during the storm as the physician was stuck in his flooded home and couldn’t travel to the hospital. On the afternoon of August 30, personnel from OakBend Medical Center contacted InTouch Health asking for assistance in providing emergent neurologic patient consults and assessments remotely until they could regain access to their neurologist.

In an effort to help in this time of need, the InTouch Health team banded together with the OakBend team to quickly set up a telehealth device at the hospital on the secure, cloud-based InTouch Telehealth Network that would allow neurologists from our Physician Capacity Management team to remotely beam in and provide emergent neurology consults when needed.

Four of our neurologists were already licensed to practice in Texas, and because OakBend was in an emergency “Code Gray” situation, the hospital could grant temporary, emergent privileges to the physicians.

Once we had physicians willing to dedicate time to help those needing care at OakBend, the team got to work on the details:

  • Administrative legal paperwork was delivered so the physicians could provide consults at a new location
  • Secure telehealth software was installed and tested
  • A safe clinical workflow was developed
  • Hospital personnel were trained on how to use the telehealth device as well as the consult workflow

Less than 24 hours after receiving the call for help on August 30, the secure telehealth system was live and the first patient was seen the afternoon of August 31.

In times of need and when patient lives are on the line, it’s quick action, communication, and a genuine interest in doing whatever it takes to help, that make all the difference. We would like to thank OakBend Medical Center, our regional team, and our Physician Capacity Management team for working together to quickly mobilize and get a solution in place in a timely effort to provide care in a dire situation.

InTouch Health is available to support hospitals in the path of Hurricane Irma by enabling telemedicine consults. Please contact us at feedback@intouchhealth.com if you need support and we will connect you with our regional team.