New telemedicine clinic to better serve blood & marrow transplant patients

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT)-- Grand Junction and Utah cancer hospitals are teaming up to provide better care to rural communities. It's all made possible by web cameras.

Grand Valley Oncology has set up a telemedicine clinic to better serve their patients.

"It’s a burden for many of our patients to travel a distance to Salt Lake, Huntsman anywhere for that matter, it's so much nicer for them to be a few blocks away and be able to have this kind of a service,” said Joanne Virgilio, Medical Director of Hematology Oncology for Grand Valley Oncology.

Telemedicine is important especially to rural areas.

"We don't do transplants here,” said Joanne Virgilio.

Without it, patients would have to make the drive to Utah or Denver for treatment. For blood and marrow transplantations the procedure is much more lengthy than a one time operation.

"You have to stay in the Salt Lake City area for 3 months within half an hour of the medical center and then after 3 months you send the patient home but they need to keep coming back monthly,” said Daniel Couriel, MD. Director of HCI’s Blood and marrow Transplant program.

Now those monthly visits will be held over video call using their telemedicine clinic.

"We can have a visit that is just as effective as an in person visit,” said Dr. Couriel.

Through that video call, Dr. Couriel can evaluate the patient and talk with doctors about next steps from 300 miles away.

"Helps pick up symptoms and signs of complications that we would otherwise not find until the patient comes back for their visit,” said Dr. Couriel.

The goal is to allow every patient to heal from home.

"Communication is the key between physicians to be able to really service the patient to have that coordination of care that's what's most important to me for my patients,” said Dr. Virgilio.

The third Wednesday of each month is when the telemedicine exams will take place at Grand Valley Oncology.

They hope to expand the program to Nevada and Idaho within the next couple of years.

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