Bellin connects with area patients via video conferencing


OCONTO — Bellin Health is using technology to help reduce the need for area residents to commute to Green Bay for behavioral health services. Over the past several weeks, patients in Oconto and providers in Green Bay have been conducting appointments via video conference.
The technology, known as Telemedicine, allows patients to make a shorter commute to a more convenient location for treatment. The first satellite location to be equipped to communicate with behavioral health professionals at Bellin Health Psychiatric Center is located at the Bond Community Center, 1201 Park Ave., adjacent to the Bond Health Center.
“This winter’s inclement weather and the resulting hazardous road conditions really helped define the importance of this new option for our patients,” said Dr. Paulina Kitcher, who was among the first to use the Telemedicine system. “Continuation of care is extremely important in the field of behavioral health and missed appointments can be a substantial barrier in treatment. This service will increase accessibility to expert care for the Oconto region.”
The Bond location features a private room equipped with a large flat screen 42-inch monitor and camera. The provider has the same equipment along with the system controls enabling camera zooming and other capabilities. The two systems have a high quality connection that allows the two parties to communicate in real time. With the technology, providers can monitor body movements, gestures, facial expressions and voice inflection, as they would in a traditional face-to-face appointment.         
When scheduling appointments, eligible patients are given the option to have their appointment via video conference and may choose to do so depending on their preference, schedule, travel time, or other circumstances.
“We’ve received great feedback from patients and their families,” said Linda Roethle, president of Bellin Health Psychiatric Center. “We’re training more providers to use this service and Bellin Health is exploring how we can expand this service to other specialty areas within our health care system.”
Behavioral health patients who receive their services at Bellin Health should check with their provider for availability.
The Bond Health Center is located at 820 Arbutus Ave., adjacent to the Bond Community Center. It is easily accessible from both Park Avenue and Arbutus Avenue. A partnership between the Oconto Memorial Hospital Citizens Foundation and Bellin Health, the critical care access hospital is designed to meet the health care needs of the residents of Oconto and surrounding communities.
Bellin Health is an integrated health care delivery system based in Green Bay. It has serviced people in Northeast Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula since 1908. It is comprised of Bellin Hospital, Bellin Psychiatric Center, 25 Bellin Health Family Medical Center primary care physician clinics, and several retail health clinics known as Bellin Health FastCare. Bellin also operates Bellin Health Partners, a physician-hospital organization with 230 specialty physician members, the Bond Health Center, Bellin Fitness Center with three locations, and Bellin College of Nursing. With its 2,500 employees, Bellin Health is known for its emphasis on preventive health care and is the region’s leader in cardiac, orthopedics, sports medicine, digestive health, mental health, and primary care medicine. Bellin has been recognized several times as a Top 100 Hospital and by other leading quality benchmark organizations.