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Patients can be seen by video conference

Your next doctor visit might just involve explaining your ailments to a video screen.
River Park Hospital is keeping up with the changing times as telemedicine has made its way to McMinnville.
Visitors to River Park’s Heart Healthy Fair on Saturday were able to converse with Dr. Frank Lafranchise who serves as medical director of the stroke program at Saint Thomas Hospital.
Lafranchise, who was actually in Nashville at Saint Thomas Hospital at the time, joined attendees at the health fair held in River Park’s lobby via a telehealth unit. The unit is composed of a video screen and camera so both the doctor and patient can see each other. The Saint Thomas Specialty Clinic at River Park uses telehealth to connect patients with Dr. Lafranchise in Nashville.
Dr. Lafranchise said, “Some older patients are not able to drive out of town to see a doctor or specialist. We are able to give a full neurologic exam via telemedicine. I have a nurse practitioner who is in the room with the patient in McMinnville, while I am in Nashville via the virtual clinic. If the need arises, the patient will be admitted to River Park and can be brought to Saint Thomas if absolutely necessary. Also, I will be in McMinnville once a month to see some patients.”
“There are not enough neurologists in the country. The average age of neurologists in the United States is 53 years old. Some people would have no access to a neurologist without the virtual clinic. Telehealth is another tool to help enhance patient care. It does not replace the doctors or nurses,” said Lafranchise.
Most health fair attendees enjoyed chatting with Dr. Lafranchise via the telehealth unit while others were scared when the person on the screen actually started talking to them. Dr. Lafranchise was able to pan his camera around and see everyone attending the health fair. At first, one woman thought it was cute until she realized he was really talking to her. Once the realization hit, she backed away from the telemonitor with a scared look.
 The doctor is able to move the camera back and forth as well as zoom in and out when he is examining and evaluating a patient.
Ashley Wright, River Park marketing representative said, “This Heart Healthy Fair was a success with over 200 people in attendance. We are glad we could show people the advancements being made in telemedicine and we were excited to have Dr. Lafranchise interacting with health fair attendees.”
People attending the event were offered the chance to have the blood drawn for a cholesterol check by River Park’s Laboratory Services department, body fat analysis by The Diabetes Center at River Park, blood pressure checks by Nursing Services and Cardiac Rehabilitation and Cardiopulmonary Services offered oxygen saturation and heart rate checks.
Other booths offering information and advice were The Sleep Center at River Park, Rehabilitation Services – Outpatient and Inpatient, Surgical Services, Namaste OB/ GYN, United Healthcare, Intrepid USA Health Care Services, SunCrest Healthcare, Inc., Curves, McMinnville Parks and Recreation, University of Tennessee Extension Agency and Just Friends at River Park.
The Diabetes Center of River Park and McMinnville Parks and Recreation is offering a healthy living challenge to all Warren countians. The 28-Day Challenge to a Healthier You begins March 1 and shows that small challenges can make a big difference.
The Diabetes Center is offering a March calendar with small goals for each day of the month. For example, March 2 has “Walk to the mailbox or walk your dog” and “Exchange one sugary drink for 8 oz. of water.” Calendars are available online at www.riverparkhospital.com/28-day-challenge.
The Heart Healthy Fair was sponsored in partnership with Saint Thomas.


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