Saint Luke’s eHealth connects Saint Louis Children’s Hospital with Kansas City Patient

October 7, 2015

In May, 14-year-old Serena Ellsworth of Kansas City underwent facial reanimation surgery at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Serena suffers from Moebius Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that leaves her unable to move her face. For Serena, surgery was the first step toward being able to smile.

The procedure was so highly specialized that Serena had to leave Kansas City to find a pediatric surgeon to perform it. After spending nine days in the hospital, she returned to Kansas City. She wouldn’t need to see her surgeon for several weeks, and then just for a quick 30 minute appointment – and more than three hours each way on the road from Kansas City to St. Louis.

That’s where Saint Luke’s eHealth offered a time-saving solution. Saint Luke’s Health System and St. Louis Children’s Hospital are both part of the BJC Collaborative. The hospital reached out to Saint Luke’s for help.

Saint Luke’s is a national leader in using telemedicine to provide advanced care to patients across our region. Steve Kropp, SLHS system director of eHealth and outreach services, knew our advanced technology could make it possible. After coordinating schedules, Gary Ripple, M.D., medical director of Saint Luke’s eHealth, took Serena’s vitals and assisted with the St. Louis’ surgeon’s exam needs. The virtual exam went perfectly.

Beyond saving Serena and her mom, Yvonne, the three-hour drive, what’s even more impressive is the time eHealth saved her father, Jim. He works in Carlsbad, N.M., and was planning to make a 15-hour drive to Kansas City to pick up Serena and Yvonne for the appointment in St. Louis. Yvonne was incredibly relieved and very thankful to Saint Luke’s for making it happen.

Serena is recovering well, and as she progresses toward her goal of smiling, she may see her St. Louis doctor through Saint Luke’s technology again.

In addition to Saint Luke’s Health System and BJC HealthCare, members of the BJC Collaborative include CoxHealth in Springfield, Mo., Memorial Health System in Springfield, Ill., Blessing Health System in Quincy, Ill., and Southern Illinois Healthcare in Carbondale, Ill. The Collaborative provides a means of facilitating the exploration and, ultimately, the implementation and expansion of clinical programs and services between and among the Collaborative members to improve access to and quality of health care for patients.

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