Telemedic equipment improves health care in rural Alabama

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Health care just got a little better in rural Alabama.

"The technology is so advanced. This is what we're using in Afghanistan and Iraq," said Will Rutland, Project Manager for Alabama eHealth.

It's the so-called 'telemedic machine.' Here's how it works.

A doctor in Montgomery can see a patient in west Alabama without needing to be in the same room.

"This is the magic of all this. You walk into a clinic in Selma. The nurse puts the stethoscope to your chest and sends those signals over the internet and the doctor in Montgomery is listening," said Rutland.

The Montgomery Aids Outreach is behind the project. Rutland says it's the first of its kind in the country, and Selma is only one of three cities in the state that has the rural clinics. The other two are Sipsey in Walker County and Florence in northwest Alabama.

"We believe this is the start of a real solution to health care in rural Alabama," Rutland said.

Will Rutland tells us this program is primarily for those with HIV but will serve all patients. While Rutland applauds the venture, the Montgomery Aids Outreach along with Whatley Health Services in Tuscaloosa and AIDS Action Coalition of Huntsville must also raise $300,000 a year in order to get the federal match, no small assignment considering the economy.

"We'll just beat the bushes and ask for private donations. We have some mayors raising the awareness about this," Rutland said.

The clinic in Selma is located in the UAB Family Medical clinic which is inside the Vaughn Regional Medical Center.