BURLEY — With a few strokes of a computer keyboard critical care tech Helen McClure can access specialty physicians and nurses who have a wide range of expertise.
Intermountain Healthcare, parent company of Cassia Regional Hospital, has launched one of the nation’s largest virtual hospitals. The hospital, called Intermountain Connect Care Pro, brings together 35 telehealth programs and more than 500 caregivers.
Connect Care Pro provides basic medical care, along with advanced services like stroke evaluation, newborn critical care, mental health counseling and intensive care.
“It means that people have access to specialties in the community without having to travel to Boise or Salt Lake City,” said Ben Smalley, Cassia Regional Hospital administrator.
The system improves patient care by giving local doctors and patients access to the specialists and saves the patients money since they don’t have to travel to another city for care. It also saves the hospitals money.
“But most importantly,” Stephanie Curtis, spokeswoman for CRH, said, “The quality of care is much higher.”
CRH implemented an oncology portion of the system in November and wound care was implemented this week.
Conversations about how the hospital can further utilize the system are occurring daily, Smalley said.
“One of the challenges you have with small communities is that they can’t support the specialists,” Smalley said. “This gives the community access to that neurologist or other specialist and it helps relieve the financial burden for the hospitals because the cost is spread across the hospitals.”
With the program, one infant in a southern Utah hospital received critical care consultation that allowed the baby to stay at the same facility instead of being transferred to Salt Lake City. The transfer would have cost more than $18,000.
On Friday, the face of Crystal Hale, Intermountain Connect Care Pro clinical coordinator, pops up on a large television monitor mounted on the wall of a CRH intensive care room. A camera mounted on the ceiling in the room covers the patient’s bed and reveals everyone in the room.
Hale zooms the camera’s lens in on Smalley’s eyes to demonstrate the image quality available for use in examination of a patient.
Hale, a seasoned nurse with a master’s degree and 30 years of experience does patient rounds for Intermountain’s hospitals and provides services to five other medical facilities. She works from a non-hospital building in Midvale, Utah.
“Our goal is to keep patients close to home and their families if we can,” Hale said.
The specialists have access to all of the patient’s records and they can have virtual consults with the treating physicians.
There are plans to extend the services for use in under-served areas, according to a press release issued by Intermountain Healthcare. Discussions are underway to put patient kiosks in locations like homeless shelters, schools, jails or community centers.
Editor's note: Helen McClure's title has been updated to reflect that she is a critical care tech.
If you do one thing: Magic Valley Repertory Theatre performs its musical production of “Chicago” at 2:30 p.m. at the Orpheum Theatre, 146 Main Ave. N., Twin Falls. Tickets are $10, $12 and $15.
TWIN FALLS — Imanol Jimenez was scared when he arrived at Canyon Ridge High School.
“When I came here, I couldn’t speak English,” the 17-year-old said. After moving from Mexico, it was a big adjustment starting at a new school in a new country. “I feel like everyone is a little scared when they start.”
But just two-and-a-half years later, Imanol is president of Canyon Ridge High’s diversity club. And after he graduates, he wants to go to college to study anthropology.
He was among more than a dozen international and refugee students who shared their culture during Canyon Ridge’s yearly “International Week.” Festivities this week included a lunch, soccer tournament and talent show.
The event everyone was waiting for was Friday — a “taste of the world” lunch, Imanol said, where students served traditional food from their home countries while wearing traditional attire.
Imanol said he wondered how the event would be perceived by others at the school.
“Others who weren’t from foreign lands were pretty interested in it,” he said.
At Canyon Ridge, though, diversity is a part of everyday life. The school is home to the Twin Falls School District‘s high school refugee students. In total, 22 countries are represented among the student body, along with 28 languages — the top five of which are Arabic, Spanish, Nepali, Swahili and Tigrinya.
Meet three of Canyon Ridge’s international students:
Tertil is Eritrean and was born in Sudan. She has been in the United States for three years and when she arrived at Canyon Ridge, “it was kind of scary at first,” she said, because of the language barrier. But she got plugged in with the school’s diversity club. “We’re all like from different countries,” she said.
For International Week, she prepared food for her classmates and school employees. “We served the whole school,” she said.
One difference she has noticed at school here in Twin Falls is the teaching style. At her old school, teachers would come up to the front of the room and lead a lesson, but there wasn’t individualized help for students.
“Here, you can stay after school and they’ll help you,” she said.
Tertil said she loves math, and after she graduates from high school, she wants to go to the College of Southern Idaho. Her ultimate goal is to become a physician assistant.
Mohamed, who’s Sudanese, and came to the United States in 2015 — his freshman year of high school. He arrived with no English language skills. Now, he’s a high school junior.
In his country of origin, there was more fighting and it’s dangerous, he said. “Here, it’s kind of safer than over there.”
Mohamed said his favorite part about being at Canyon Ridge High is competing in sports. He plays soccer — his favorite sport — and is also on the track and cross country teams. When he’s not at school, he works at Johnny Carino’s Italian restaurant.
He hopes to go to college and earn a soccer scholarship.
Imanol was born in Lodi, Calif., but his family moved to Mexico when he was young and he was raised there. Two-and-a-half years ago, his family moved back to the United States.
Compared with schools he attended in Mexico, at Canyon Ridge High “everything is different — the building, the way the school looks,” he said. “It’s a pretty diverse school.”
Despite being scared when he started at Canyon Ridge, Imanol said his teachers are “pretty amazing people” who are open minded and supportive.
He has picked up the English language quickly and now, he’s learning French. “I’m really into foreign languages,” he said.
After Imanol graduates, he hopes to study anthropology in college.