Augusta hospital using technology to save lives in rural counties

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Thurs. June 16, 2016

WASHINGTON, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Angie Vickery walks through these doors almost everyday.

"I've been here for about two years," said Vikery.

But on September 8th Vikery wasn't walking into Wills Memorial as a nurse.

"My mom called and she was crying on the phone and basically she said I think you daddy is having a stroke," said Vikery.

The clock was winding down for Angie's dad and she wasn't sure if the hospital in her rural community of Washington, Ga. would be able to give him the help he needed.

"We do not have the specialist. We will not have a neurologist, we will not have the cardiologist," said Vikery.

"I was thinking the whole time that maybe we should go to a large facility, maybe we should not stop," said Vikery.

But thanks to this little web cam, and a program they call REACH, a doctor from an hour away at Augusta University Medical Center was able to help.

"During the REACH consult my dad was actually laying here on the bed. I could see the neurologist. My dad could see the neurologist," said Vikery.

It's the REACH technology that made all the difference.

"When we got to Augusta University, the neurologist there said had you not gotten him there and gotten the TPA, this could've been devastating. It could've been a devastating even life threatening stroke," said Vikery.

Over the last 13 years the REACH program has treated more than 1,000 people across rural Georgia and into South Carolina all through a web cam.

"Patients that are living in these rural areas that don't have community hospitals it delays the treatment," said Vikery.

That means if treatment doesn't start within the first hours the chances of recovery go down.

"It can really not only save your life but it can also make sure your quality of life that you have is better," said Vikery.

One place this life saving technology can not be found is Barnwell County. Earlier this year we reported the county's only hospital was closing.
News 12 NBC 26 called to see if the closest care facility with extended hours, Low Country Medicine, had the technology and they do not.

Here's a list of the places in our area you can find the REACH program:

Barrow Regional Medical Center, Burke Medical Center, Emanuel Medical Center, Fairview Park Hospital, Jefferson County Hospital, John D. Archbold Memorial Hospital, Optim Medical Center-Jenkins, St. Mary's Hospital, St. Mary's Good Samaritan Hospital, Tift Regional Medical Center, University Hospital and University Hospital-McDuffie, Washington County Regional Medical Center, West Georgia Hospital, Wills Memorial Hospital, and Aiken Regional Medical Centers in South Carolina.

Augusta University also has a partnership with the St. Joseph's/Candler Network in Savannah to provide stroke consultations for St. Joseph Hospital, Candler Hospital, Appling Healthcare System, Candler County Hospital, Coffee Regional Medical Center, Effingham Health System, Evans Memorial Hospital, Optim Medical Center-Tattnall, and Wayne Memorial Hospital.