ARDMORE — Gary Greene, Ph.D., board president, and Robert Lee, LCSW, executive director, today announced the successful introduction of a new telemedicine system designed to better serve the needs of the residents of southern Oklahoma.

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services of Southern Oklahoma, headquartered in Ardmore, has sites in nine counties across south central Oklahoma with main clinics in Ardmore, Ada and Durant. It is in those three main sites that telemedicine has been successfully implemented. Partnering with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, who provided funding for the equipment through their “Innovation Center” and Integris Mental Health who provides the physician services, MHSACSO has added 35 hours per week of psychiatric services.

According to Gina Rodgers, MS, unit coordinator in Durant, “this will enable us to add 160 new appointments with a psychiatrist each month” which will reduce waiting time, increase appointment frequency and provide better care.

Terri Goodwin, MS, unit coordinator in Ada, said “The equipment is high definition and in real time, so the physician and patient have excellent communication.”

Deana Tharp, MS, clinical director, said, “We were initially concerned that our consumers would have some doubts about how this will work, but our satisfaction surveys have been very positive.”

Robert Lee, LCSW, said “As we gain experience with the program, we anticipate we will be able to add other specialty services such as child and adolescent psychiatry and geriatric psychiatry.”

Tracie Del Torto, MSW, Unit Coordinator in Ardmore echoed the praise of the other staff, “it has gone really smoothly and everyone has been very pleasantly surprised at how well it works”. Charles Dukes, MD, is providing the psychiatric services from his office in Oklahoma City. The equipment allows him to see patients, document their care, write prescriptions and other orders, all of which is sent electronically to the various sites. “This equipment helps me see more patients in more sites than I could ever do in person and has been really easy to use”. Dr. Dukes can see patients in Ardmore in the morning and Durant in the afternoon without ever leaving his office. Dr. Greene added “it is our hope that all of our clinic sites will have this capacity in the next 12-18 months, but this is an excellent start and we couldn't be more pleased. This really adds to our ability to serve the citizens of south central Oklahoma.”

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