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Telemedicine coming to Clifton-Fine Hospital

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STAR LAKE — Clifton-Fine Hospital is putting out the word that its services will expand with telemedicine.

As part of funding through the Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization, Clifton-Fine will be able to provide some advanced medical services in-house.

“I’m very excited about it, “ hospital Administrator Robert L. Seamon said. “Transportation is an issue for a lot of our patients.”

Specialized video equipment will allow the hospital’s primary care clinic to have the patient at Clifton-Fine while a specialist examines him or her from a hospital in Syracuse or Watertown, for example. A nurse stays with the patient and assists with the examination. The equipment is sensitive enough that a doctor on the other end can hear what is happening through a stethoscope or view a digital image of a rash.

“We’re going through training now,” Mr. Seamon said. “It’s not ready for prime time yet.”

Protocols and procedures still have to be worked out, he said. Services could start in June with a pilot program.

“Our plan is to start with pain management,” Mr. Seamon said. “Not every specialty service works well with telemedicine.”

Another option might be to provide psychiatric care through telemedicine. That could remove any stigma patients might feel about seeking help for mental illness because they are being seen through the same clinic in which physical ailments are handled.

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