How one family’s letter prompted the creation of a new telehealth program
Jared and Kristina Burns went through a harrowing experience: Their sick child was airlifted out for specialized care. That encounter led them to write a letter to Providence St. Mary Medical Center in Walla Walla, Washington. In it, they requested that the organization implement a telemedicine tool so infants and kids could get better access to specialized care during emergencies.
Providence St. Mary liked the idea, and more than a year and a half later, the pieces were in place. The medical center is now a pilot site to bring telemedicine neonatologists and pediatric intensivists to Walla Walla, according to a news release.
The telehealth doctors can also give virtual guidance when a child needs specialized care but can’t be airlifted out immediately.
“This supports the care the child needs,” Dr. Christopher Hall, a pediatrician and the CMO of Providence St. Mary, said in a statement. “It also supports the pediatricians here. The pediatricians in Walla Walla operate at a very high level, but there are very complex, sometimes rare, conditions that require specialists, such as a baby born with an unusual abnormality.”
Ultimately, the goal of the telehealth program is to ensure the medical team has specialized assistance so they can give the child the best possible care.
“Our family’s desire to do something stems from our feeling of helplessness with our own children needing specialty care,” Jared Burns said in a news release. “St. Mary provides good care, but we didn’t have the specialty care. Had (telemedicine) been available, I think our children might have been able to stay in Walla Walla.”