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J.C. Blair, PinnacleHealth partner on telemedicine, continue talks

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PinnacleHealth System and J.C. Blair Health System, which have been in partnership negotiations since May, have announced they are working together to bring telemedicine to Huntingdon County.

Both organizations are nonprofits. PinnacleHealth, based in Harrisburg, operates Harrisburg Hospital, Polyclinic Hospital, Community General Osteopathic Hospital and the Helen M. Simpson Rehabilitation Hospital, as well as many outpatient centers, and is set to open its new West Shore Hospital in May.

Huntingdon-based J.C. Blair consists of J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital, a medical services organization that provides primary and specialty care physicians, rehabilitation services through a joint venture with HealthSouth and a foundation. The program will bring specialty services such as neurology, toxicology, infectious disease, wound and stroke care to Huntingdon County. The PinnacleHealth telemedicine program incorporates computer and video technology to allow specialists to see and examine patients through the use of a PinnacleHealth robot that J.C. Blair staff guides. During the examination, the doctor has full access to the patient’s medical records and any laboratory tests or imaging studies that may have been completed.

PinnacleHealth reported using this same technology within its own health system and in partnership with Fulton County Medical Center.

“You can see and speak to the doctor as if they are standing right next to you. You will see him clearly, while he asks you questions and you respond,” Dr. Christian Caicedo, executive director of emergency services at PinnacleHealth, said in a news release. “Using the camera on the robot he can zoom and focus on various parts of your body, and with the help of a nurse, complete an examination as if you are both in the same room.”

“Patients in our emergency room may need immediate access to specialty care for an event such as a stroke, severe infection or neurological issue,” said Lisa Mallon, president and CEO of J.C. Blair. “Telemedicine provides access to this needed care in the moment, saving precious time for diagnosis and treatment.”

PinnacleHealth spokeswoman Kelly McCall said J.C. Blair and PinnacleHealth are still in discussions.

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