Telehealth Expands UAB Specialist Care to Bibb, Lauderdale Counties

Additional ultrasound technologist training is part of a grant-funded package bringing more health care options to rural areas.

Patients in Bibb and Lauderdale counties will be able to consult specialists at UAB without driving to Birmingham, thanks to a $200,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission.

The grant will fund two telehealth sites— one at Bibb Medical Center in Bibb County and one at North Alabama Medical Center in Lauderdale County. Each will have three patient rooms, especially equipped for telehealth visits. The new patient rooms should be ready by the end of this year.

Because the new sites are at hospitals, patients will be able to get lab work at the same visit.

The grant will also provide funding to train two ultrasound technologists so that high-risk patients can be monitored from afar. The technologists will spend several weeks in Birmingham, honing their skills, before returning to their home hospitals to work with patients.

“Currently there are no maternal-fetal medicine physicians at Bibb Medical Center or at North Alabama Medical Center,” said Eric Wallace, M.D., medical director of UAB eMedicine. With additional training for ultrasound technologists, high-risk pregnancies can be monitored by specialists.

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“Maternal morbidity and mortality are increasing,” says Luisa Wett, M.D., a maternal-fetal specialist at UAB. “We hope this opportunity will improve pregnancy outcomes in the state.”

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