Technology Allows Patient to Visit Doctor Via Video 

Maine is a big state and having to travel hours for medical treatment can be costly and a strain on patients and their families. The Telemedicine Center at Eastern Maine Medical Center is making it possible for patients to talk to doctors via video.”I had to have someone drive me back and forth, that’s three hours in a car.” Cheryl Collinsworth explains what it used to be like having to travel from Millinocket to Brewer for her cancer treatments. Now, thanks to telemedicine, patients don’t have to deal with the hassle of travel. “If I have a patient in Millinocket who is getting regular chemotherapy treatments , we can schedule visits on the day that they get treatment so that we do a better job of taking care of them,” said Dr. Thomas Openshaw.Virginia Manuel, State Director for USDA Rural Development agrees it’s important, “In a rural state like Maine where you have to travel great distances to access the best care, it eases that burden especially for the people who are very ill and the last thing they want to do is get in the car and travel hours and hours.”Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems has been utilizing telemedicine for a couple of years now and through a more than $150,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, access will be expanded to care for cancer patients through Tele-Oncology. “I was impressed by how clear the images are and how easy it was to talk to the patient and the provider up in Millinocket from here in Bangor,” said Manuel.So far, patients seem to like the technology and the treatment.”They come back month after month and now a couple years later, and they are very pleased because they don’t have to drive to Bangor and they can cut down on their costs,” said Jacqueline Carter, nurse practitioner. “I can’t say enough good things about being home and working with the people in the clinic,” added Collinsworth.The grant will be applied to 6 hospitals within the Eastern Maine Healthcare System.