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Telemedicine Makes Treatment Easier For Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders, Developmental And Learning Difficulties

Every day, new technology is invented that seems to shrink the globe, bringing everything we need closer to the Eastern Shore. This has not been the case for certain specialty health care. Until now.

Atlantic General Hospital is the first hospital in the nation to partner with Kennedy Krieger Institute to provide telemedicine services to children with autism, ADD / ADHD, intellectual disabilities, and other developmental disorders living far from specialty care.

Often a referral for specialty care means a trip to Baltimore and a six-hour round trip drive, with additional expenses for gas, food, parking and tolls. This can leave patients and their families exhausted before they even say hello to the doctor.

In Worcester County and the surrounding areas, the experience is changing for some children with special needs and their parents. On December 13, Atlantic General Hospital and Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Center for Development and Learning began a pilot project using telemedicine technology to treat pediatric patients with developmental and learning disorders.

Dr. Deepa Menon, the assistant medical director at Kennedy Krieger’s Center for Autism and Related Disorders, and Dr. Paul Lipkin, the director of Kennedy Krieger’s Center for Development and Learning, are providing complete care, with initial evaluations and follow up visits, using encrypted telemedicine technology transmits both audio and video of the patient and doctor in real time.

The physicians are able to interact with patients and their families in the same way they would in an actual exam room.

And patients receive the consultations and treatment from these specialists at the conveniently located Atlantic Health Center, on the Atlantic General Hospital’s main campus in Berlin, Md.

“The convenience for these families is tremendous,” said Deborah Wolf, Director of the Atlantic Health Center. “Patients will receive the same quality of care through our telemedicine technology as they would if they traveled to Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore. We’re very happy that we are able to provide this service to patients and their families, some of whom would not otherwise be able to access this kind of care.”

Atlantic General Hospital is an experienced provider of telemedicine services. In 2008, Atlantic General Hospital entered into a telemedicine partnership with five Maryland hospitals to provide long distance monitoring of our ICU patients. This service complements the care provided by the unit’s intensivists and nursing staff, while providing additional safety measures for our sickest patients.

In 2011, AGH also partnered with Sheppard Pratt Health System to provide telemedicine psychiatric services. The Atlantic Health Center’s Behavioral Health Program has utilized telemedicine in conjunction with onsite psychiatrist Ken Widra, MD, and licensed clinical social worker Paul Ganster to expand much needed care to our region.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 410-629-6881 or 410-641-3340.