SALT LAKE CITY — The Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) and Grand Valley Oncology in Grand Junction, Colorado, recently opened a new telemedicine clinic to serve blood and marrow transplant (BMT) patients.
The clinic will serve patients in Mesa County, Colorado and the surrounding areas.
Once a month, Couriel conducts telemedicine visits with patients from the Grand Junction area who recently received a BMT from the HCI. The telemedicine visit is done through a computer linkup, in an exam room that is equipped with special lights and cameras, as well as a nurse practitioner who is trained for the special type of visit.
“We are, for the first time, pioneering the idea of bringing cutting-edge care to remote communities without the usual expectation of the patient coming back to Salt Lake City multiple times for follow-up appointments,” Couriel said. “This is particularly relevant in a geographic area like ours.”
Joanne Virgilio, DO, a medical oncologist at Grand Valley Oncology, is collaborating with Couriel in the clinic.
“The telemedicine BMT clinic is a fantastic asset for our patients to be able to access the expertise of HCI close to home. This clinic also facilitates improved communication and teamwork between our cancer center and HCI,” Virgilio said.
Couriel said that because transplant complications are time-dependent, the new telemedicine clinic will help improve BMT patient outcomes.
“One of the most common scenarios happens in winter when a BMT patient from our surrounding areas can’t get to us for their follow-up visit because of snowstorms,” Couriel said. “That means we may not see them for two or three months. When they do get here, we see complications we could have dealt with much better, earlier.”
Ben Tanner, MHA, executive director of the cancer hospital at HCI, part of the University of Utah Health, worked to make the clinic a reality.
“We saw a need to extend HCI’s clinical care to Grand Junction. This model will allow patients to receive excellent treatment from HCI experts, while being able to stay close to home. That is our ultimate goal,” Tanner said.
HCI has long-term goals to create similar BMT telemedicine clinics in hospitals located in Rexburg, Idaho; Jackson, Wyoming; Rock Springs, Wyoming; and Carson City, Nevada.