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Telehealth Expands Health Services Offered at Southern Miss Gulf Park

Mon, 10/12/2015 - 03:30pm | By: Jenny Tate

Gulf Park Health Center nurse, Meagan Jernigan, demonstrates the telehealth implementation on the Gulf Park campus. (University Communications photo)

Students, faculty and staff at The University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf Park campus in Long Beach can now receive primary health care from Student Health Services physicians located on the Hattiesburg campus through a telehealth connection set up and maintained by the Center for Telehealth at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC).

The addition of telehealth at Southern Miss provides a significant expansion of access to the Gulf Park Health Center, allowing patients to have contact with a physician through a webcam on the Gulf Park campus Monday through Thursday each week.

“I am thrilled that we have been able to expand the health and wellness services available to our Gulf Park campus community through telehealth. In Fall 2014, we were only able to offer services one day per week, and just one year later, we are offering services four days per week,” said Dr. Steve Miller, vice president for the Gulf Park campus.

The University of Southern Mississippi is the first university in Mississippi to use telehealth to provide primary care for its students, faculty and staff.

“This program, like our corporate telehealth partnerships, shows how telehealth can be an effective solution to the challenge of providing primary health care services in an easily accessible and cost efficient manner,” said Dr. Kristi Henderson, chief telehealth and innovations officer at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. “A connection between the university's Long Beach campus to the existing health clinic operation in Hattiesburg just makes sense and we were happy to use our over 10 years of telehealth experience to assist with that connection.”

Miller added, “The collaboration between USM and the Center for Telehealth at UMMC is a great example of our Institutions of Higher Learning working together to advance health and wellness in the state.”

Telehealth allows physicians with Student Health Services based on the Hattiesburg campus the ability to provide real-time health care to patients at the Southern Miss Health Center in Long Beach through a webcam connection between the two locations.

A nurse in the office with the patient initiates the telehealth webcam connection. A physician is then able to see and speak with a patient about his or her symptoms through the webcam. Networked otoscopes and stethoscopes on the telehealth unit provide needed information that the physician can use to form a diagnosis and establish the best course of treatment.

“My goal is to provide high quality health and wellness to all members of the university community,” said Dr. Virginia Crawford, director of Student Health Services. “The addition of telehealth is a great way for our staff to be able to provide real-time health care to students, faculty and staff who are located on the Gulf Park campus.”

Student Health Services staff members on the Hattiesburg and Long Beach campuses were trained to operate the equipment by representatives from the UMMC Center for Telehealth.

“We have already seen a higher number of patients this week with the launch of telehealth services on the Gulf Park campus, and we expect that number to continue to increase in the coming weeks and months,” said Meagan Jernigan, registered nurse for the Gulf Park Health Center.

Access to the Gulf Park Health Center is available to all current Southern Miss students, faculty and staff as well as spouses and dependent children above the age of 12 on a fee-for-service basis.

The Gulf Park Health Center is open Monday, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.; Tuesday, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.; Wednesday, noon – 5 p.m.; and Thursday, noon – 5 p.m. In addition to physical health services, the Gulf Park Health Center offers Student Counseling Services from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. each Tuesday and by appointment.

To learn more about the Health Center at the Gulf Park campus, visit www.usm.edu/gulfcoast/health-center.