Program helps New Mexico brain injury patients receive care | KOB 4

Program helps New Mexico brain injury patients receive care Web Staff
June 09, 2017 06:56 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The brain is a complex organ. It controls everything in our bodies. If something goes wrong, you’re going to want to get help fast.


That’s a challenge if you’re living in a rural area and the nearest specialist is hours away, but that’s changing in New Mexico, where hospitals is using a $15 million grant from the government to use telemedicine.

The initiative is called Project Access.

“You think about transporting patients, you think about the expense, and you think about the risk,” said Howard Yonas, a neurosurgeon at UNM Hospital. “You transport a patient in a storm, you put a patient at risk, a crew at risk. Then you have to ask, ‘Does a patient need to be moved? Is it really necessary?’”

The stroke telemedicine program has saved patients, hospitals and insurance companies upwards of $20 million in air ambulance costs by triaging a patient close to home.

So far, 12 New Mexico hospitals are taking part.

"We still have another half dozen (hospitals) I’d love to bring on board,” Yonas said. “We're talking all over the state."

Yonas said he's hoping to apply for an extension so that the project can continue. He hopes once the grant is complete that he finds a way to keep the program alive so that patients will continue to receive the care that they're used to. 

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