By Lorri Ooley
Sierra Vista Hospital (SVH) has been working on providing telemedicine services to inmates of the Sierra County Detention Center. At present, the hospital is awaiting finalizing details regarding maintaining a similar environment as to what the inmates would experience at the hospital. The telemedicine will primarily be utilized for psychiatry, which is the most common platform for telemedicine.
SVH Administrator Michael Zimmerman clarified a few points for The Herald concerning safety, costs and implementation. He stated that the hospital and jail were implementing this platform for services to address costs more so than any safety risks. Both entities take considerable measures to ensure the safety of both the inmate being transported to the hospital, and the staff and other patients of SVH. While the process of transportation was not disclosed, Zimmerman restated these services were driven by reducing costs.
At present, when an inmate requires psychiatric services from SVH, there are increased costs incurred for transportation, additional guard coverage at the jail, and the need for continual guard coverage while at SVH.
With telemedicine, Zimmerman clarified that there will be a reduction to the expenditures for the jail.
Tele-psychiatry is not a new technology, as it is has been in practiced in the United States since the mid-1960s. With the expansion of technology, the availability of specialty services can be brought to rural and remote locations. Specifically between SVH and Sierra County, the services can open additional opportunities beyond the broad scope of psychiatry.
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