Ocean City Today

AGH connects shore patients with UMMC

Jul 06, 2017

(July 7, 2017) Residents of the lower Eastern Shore who may require advanced lung surgery, including those with diagnosed or suspected cancers, will soon be able to meet with leading experts in thoracic surgery at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) in Baltimore more easily.

Video teleconferencing consultations baegin this month due to an expanded telemedicine partnership between UMMC and Atlantic General Hospital (AGH).

UMMC, the University of Maryland Medical System’s academic medical center, already provides around-the-clock remote monitoring of ICU patients at AGH as part of the University of Maryland eCare network.

By video teleconferencing, UMMC thoracic surgeons will virtually consult with a patient at AGH and review CT scans and other tests to see if he or she is a surgical candidate. The entire work-up and pre-operative consultation is done locally. If a surgical procedure is needed, it will be performed at UMMC.

“There are numerous articles in the lung cancer literature that show, when surgery is done at an academic medical center, patients have longer survival and fewer complications, compared to those who receive surgery at nonacademic centers,” said Peter Costantini, M.D., pulmonologist with Atlantic General Health System.

Six surgeons in the Division of Thoracic Surgery at UMMC will take part in the program. All of the surgeries will take place at UMMC, which is also home to the University of Maryland Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center (UMGCCC).

“We expect that these appointments will be very much like a patient visit in our office here in Baltimore,” said Joseph Friedberg, M.D., the Charles Reid Edwards Professor of Surgery and head of the Division of Thoracic Surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Thoracic surgeon-in-chief of the University of Maryland Medical System. “We want this experience to be very convenient for patients and to decrease some of the stress they are experiencing related to their diagnosis.

“We are very pleased to partner with Atlantic General in this first step toward building a robust thoracic surgery telemedicine program in Maryland and the region,” Dr. Friedberg continued.

“Living on the lower Eastern Shore has many advantages, but historically access to the most advanced specialty care has been difficult,” said Michael Franklin, president and CEO of Atlantic General Hospital. “Embracing telemedicine technology to bring specialists and care to the patient, rather than making patients travel several hours when they are not feeling well, creates the best of all worlds for those of us living in this great community.”

“The goal of expanding the telemedicine service at Atlantic General Hospital is to utilize the latest technological advances we have in an effort to save patients and their families from traveling more than two hours one-way to Baltimore from Berlin to be evaluated and ensure that at least their initial care can be done in the patients’ local community,” said Marc T. Zubrow, M.D., vice president, Telemedicine and Medical Director, eCare, University of Maryland Medical System.

The program will include post-operative and follow-up telemedicine visits as well.

Eventually, patients will be able to receive second opinions as well as treatment planning, via telemedicine from UMMC specialists for a variety of cancer diagnoses. These visits will be conducted in coordination with the medical oncologists at Atlantic General’s new John H. “Jack” Burbage Regional Cancer Care Center, which is scheduled to open in the spring of 2018.

Atlantic General Hospital’s experience with telemedicine began with the launch of University of Maryland eCare to provide around-the-clock remote monitoring of ICU patients in 2010.

Shortly thereafter, AGH expanded much-needed behavioral health services in 2011 through a telemedicine partnership with therapists at Sheppard Pratt, a psychiatric hospital in Towson.

Another such partnership – this time with Baltimore-based Kennedy Krieger Institute – was forged in 2014 to provide diagnosis and treatment of developmental disabilities, including autism spectrum disorder, in children.

In 2015, AGH partnered with Berlin Nursing and Rehabilitation Center (BNRC) to provide telemedicine care for patients discharged to BNRC for rehabilitation services.

In 2016, family physician Diane Ceruzzi, D.O., began seeing some of the patients at her Pocomoke practice remotely, in between her wound consultations at Atlantic General’s Wound Care Center, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

This year, telemedicine will expand care into the patient’s home to provide daily remote monitoring of important measures, such as weight and blood pressure for high-risk patients, and video consultations with from home with physicians as necessary.

Built by the commitment and generosity of a dedicated community, the hospital’s state-of-the-art facility in Berlin combines old-fashioned personal attention with the latest in technology and services. It provides quality specialty care such as weight loss surgery, orthopedics, outpatient infusion and chemotherapy for individuals with cancer or blood/autoimmune disorders and a comprehensive women’s diagnostic center.

For more information about Atlantic General Hospital, visit www.atlanticgeneral.org.


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