LaFayette OnMed station to open in March
Published 9:00 am Wednesday, February 1, 2023
The new OnMed telehealth station in LaFayette will have a grand opening on March 24. LaFayette citizens will be able to participate in demo runs throughout for 60 days starting in February.
Auburn University Rural Health program, Chambers County University Extension, Chambers County commissioners and the city of LaFayette have been partnered for the past two years for the project.
“Our hope is that this is an additional health resource for the community. We have limited access to health care here in LaFayette and the rural surrounding areas, and we know that transportation is an issue for our citizens. And this will be closer access for them to come for any sort of health care needs,” said Rachel Snoddy, Director of Chambers County Extension office.
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According to Assistant Vice President of University Outreach and Public Service Hollie Cost, the OnMed station provides state-of-the-art technology for diagnosing and evaluating patients. Patients will be connected to a state-licensed healthcare provider who will be able to virtually evaluate and diagnose them.
Discussions for the project began between the county and the university two years ago. County Commissioner Debra Riley said Development Authority Deputy Director Chris Busby worked with Snoddy to use the county’s ADECA grant to fund the project in Chambers County.
Construction on the building was recently completed, and the telehealth station was installed on Monday. According to Cost, the project’s aim is to address the rural health disparities throughout the area.
The station follows all HIPAA guidelines and is fitted with all the tools necessary to take vital signs such as checking one’s temperature and heart rate. When entering the station, the door turns black to provide privacy. The patient will press a button to start, and the station will do the rest. Eventually, the station may be able to dispense common non-narcotic prescriptions.
“It’s very difficult today to get people to move to rural areas. With technology and the internet and the broadband access, it gives us great potential to bring back to the community in a way that is real-time,” said Paul Brown, Associate Director of Alabama Cooperative Extension.
Until March 31, any visits to the telehealth station that don’t require lab work will be free, giving citizens the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the system. There will also be demonstrations scheduled throughout February to show citizens how to use the station.
The clinic will be housed by faculty and staff from the Auburn University Health and Wellness program. According to Nursing Professor and Outreach Coordinator Linda Gibson-Young, students and faculty from the college of Nursing program at Auburn university will provide educational programs for the community on topics such as diabetes, heart disease and Covid-19.
LaFayette Mayor Kenneth Vines said the project will be a great benefit to the citizens because there is no other medical facility in the city. Vines said he encourages his citizens to take advantage of the service because it may lead to even bigger projects down the road.
“It’s going to be a great facility,” Vines said.
Within the clinic are three examination rooms and two bathrooms which are ADA-compliant and wheelchair-friendly. There is also a wing of the building that may be renovated for future use by the Rural Health program.