HELENA – St. Peter’s Health announced on Tuesday, November 27 that they are expanding their specialty and critical care in Helena by becoming an affiliate of the University of Utah Health (U of U).
Members of both healthcare organizations attended a luncheon on Tuesday to make the announcement and St. Peter’s is the 23rd health facility to join U of U.
“Affiliations, or partnerships, are an innovative and efficient way to bring the expertise of nationally-ranked health care systems into smaller communities like Helena,” said St. Peter’s Health CEO Wade Johnson.
Johnson added the partnership will greatly help St. Peter’s patients be able to get specialized care in their hometown hospital and reduce the need to travel for care.
“This is part of the whole partnership and the focus is to bring some of that national expertise to Helena,” said Johnson, “So through the relationship we’ll be able to come together and provide services to our community that we couldn’t do on our own.”
With the affiliation St. Peter’s will have to have 24-7 access to U of U health physicians through tele-medicine programs.
The secure teleconferencing programs allow consulting physicians to instantly view health charts and speak with health professionals, patients and families.
Medical professionals at St. Peter’s have already been using TeleBurn and TeleICU and say it’s been great so far.
“Our TeleICU just started a few weeks ago and we’ve had 3 consults so far,” said St. Peter’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Shelly Harkins. “It’s gone over with grand success. Our patients have been pleased and our providers are so thankful to have the resource.”
TeleICU Program Coordinator Jeni Colarusso, RN said that each U of U consulting physician has been certified for Montana and stressed that the goal is not to take patients away from St. Peter’s.
“We want patients to stay in their community and we know healing occurs best in their own home environment and hospital.” said Colarusso. “By providing the care [in Helena] beds at U of U can be open for when patients truly needs quaternary care. So it’s a win-win for everyone.”
Currently there is no cost to patients who benefit from the telemedicine programs and there are no fees associated with the Academic Affiliation agreement for St. Peter’s.
The affiliation will also allow for ongoing training and education opportunities for physicians, nurses and other staff at St. Peter’s Health.
St. Peter’s would also like to note that the new affiliation does not change ownership, local control or governance, nor does it restrict patient choice in providers or physician choice referrals.
“This affiliation is a strategic move in our effort to become the gold standard in health care for Montana,” said Johnson. “We’ve chosen to align with an institution that sets the bar in terms of health care quality and patient satisfaction, and who we know will treat our friends and neighbors with the care and compassion they deserve.”