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LRMC hooks up with St. Joseph's for stroke care
Hospital hopes tele-medicine will save lives
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Liberty Regional Medical Center is partnering with St. Joseph’s/Candler Hospital in Savannah to expedite life-saving treatment for the state’s third leading cause of death, strokes.
“It will allow the emergency room physicians access to a neurologist through tele-medicine,” LRMC’s chief nursing officer Donna Cochrane said of the new program at the local hospital. “Patients present with stroke symptoms, they will have access to a neurologist and treatment immediately.”
She described REACH Call, an interactive internet program, to the Liberty County Hospital Authority at its March meeting Tuesday. With the new program LRMC will be linked to a neurologist 24 hours a day through webcam and monitors.
“The care will start here,” Cochrane said. “We won’t have to wait for the patient to go to Savannah.”
The neurologist would evaluate brain scans and determine whether the patient needs to be taken to another facility, making the best use time and money.
“So the ER physicians are excited about that because it gives them another source to care for the patients,” Cochrane said.
During Tuesday’s meeting, LRMC chief finance officer Sam Johnson also reported the finance committee approved LRMC donating two AED units to International Gift Wrap in Midway.
The life-saving device jumpstarts the heart during cardiac arrest and will be the first on-site devices for the business of about 150 employees, according to Johnson. They cost $1,300-$1,400 a piece.
The authority also discussed possibly expanding the criteria for its Dr. Whitman Fraser Award.
Currently only doctors on staff at Liberty Regional Medical are considered for the LRMC’s first physician award, but authority member Will Darsey would like to see it expand to the community.
“I’m just opposed to excluding any healthcare professionals for the sole purpose that we’re providing the award,” Darsey said. “My guess is the Fraser Center does not want to be exclusive with that award.”
Dr. Whitman Fraser, the award’s namesake, practiced in Hinesville for nearly 30 years, after relocating from Texas in 1958. Fraser started the Mary Lou Fraser Foundation for Families, which started the Fraser Counseling Center and the Liberty County Armed Services Family YMCA. 
As a former patient, Darsey spoke highly of Fraser, but was also concerned with public perception.
“I think it creates some controversy why we’re excluding certain healthcare providers,” Darsey said.
Dr. Zorana Sifford wanted clarification on who the recognition targets.
“Because if it is a community award it has to involve all physicians of the community,” Sifford said.
She said the selection committee would have a difficult time judging without seeing the nominee on the job if the person is not actually at the hospital.
The award is patterned after an award at St. Joseph-Candler Hospital.
“I can’t imagine them opening up to the whole Chatham County-Savannah area,” said Dr. Alan Baroody, director of the Fraser Counseling Center.
He explained the committee will not know nominees’ names when reviewing applications.
Sifford suggested coming up with two awards.
The board decided to go with just the LRMC staff this year, but decided to consult with the Fraser Center and Fraser family for the future.
“I think the award is on track,” authority member James Rogers said. “I think this is our approach to recognize a physician of ours.”
The main goal was just getting the award started to correspond with National Doctors’ Day, according to hospital marketing director Rene Harwell.
The national recognition is March 30 this year and LRMC will have events during that week.
A reception to honor the late Dr. Whit and Mary Lou Fraser and their family will be at 5 p.m. April 2.
“We’re hoping that people in the community will cast their ballot for their favorite physician,” Harwell said.
The deadline is March 20 and nominations can also be submitted on-line.

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