Students and employees at the University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf Park campus in Long Beach can now receive health care from doctors on the school's Hattiesburg campus through a telehealth connection maintained by the Center for Telehealth at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
USM is the first university in Mississippi to offer the service, which has increasingly become an option nationwide for clinics in rural areas or locations where access to doctors is scarce.
The telehealth system allows patients at the Southern Miss Health Center in Long Beach to get health care information, in real time, via a webcam connection from a physician with Student Health Services based in Hattiesburg.
A nurse in Long Beach initiates the connection and the doctor can see and speak with a patient about his or her symptoms, form a diagnosis and determine the best course of treatment. Otoscopes and stethoscopes are networked into the connection so the doctors have that information as well.
"My goal is to provide high quality health and wellness to all members of the university community," said 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."
The new program has allowed the university to expand health services on its Gulf Park campus from just one day a week in the fall of 2014 to four days a week now.
Student Health Services staff members on both campuses were trained on the equipment and they have already seen a higher than average number of patients this week. School officials said they expect that number to continue growing.
The Gulf Park Health Center is now open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, and noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday.