Great Plains Health Community Impact 2019-2020

Community Impact 2019–2020 Cutting-edge cardiovascular care is closer than ever p. 3

Battling a new epidemic with awareness p. 6

Meeting the mental health needs of youth p. 8

Message from the CEO

At Great Plains Health, our mission is to put patients first – always. We strive to improve every touchpoint throughout our care delivery. We are committed to ensuring access to quality care, encouraging innovation to improve patient care and growing services to meet our region’s needs, while staying true to our mission, vision and values and maintaining our independence. I’m so proud of how dedicated our physicians, clinical care teams and support staff are living out this mission every day.They exemplify our values by passionately and genuinely providing healthcare, listening to patients and serving them with integrity. In response to health and wellness priorities outlined in our strategic plan and our Community Health Needs Assessment, as well as those identified every day by our providers and community partners, we are proud of recent accomplishments, including: + Continued growth of our telehealth capabilities – helping to keep patients’ treatments local and reduce the burden of travel on patients and families. + Improved access to pediatric mental health services. We have added a child and adolescent psychiatrist as well as a licensed mental health practitioner who work with our pediatrics team. + Strategic development of a team dedicated to improving mental health and reducing the county’s suicide rate. + Continued expansion of our cardiovascular care capabilities and increased efforts to encourage valuable screenings for heart disease. + Offering education about the dangers of vaping and counseling to help people quit this behavior, as well as smoking. We are committed to excellence by offering the best and safest care possible to every patient we serve and improving wellness throughout our 38-county, three-state region. Important community partnerships and frequent feedback from the people we serve help us achieve that mission to the best of our abilities. On behalf of the Great Plains Health team, I thank you for your continued support and for your trust in us. When it comes to top-quality, patient-centered healthcare, look no further than North Platte.

“Important community partnerships and frequent feedback from the people we serve help us achieve ourmission.”

Mel McNea, MHA Great Plains Health CEO

Mel McNea, MHA Great Plains Health CEO

Great Plains Health AT A GLANCE

Great Plains Health serves: 38 counties in three states 67,882 square miles

116 BEDS






$111.3 million


Patient medication (Rx) assistance program

Annual economic impact of Great Plains Health to the region²

$150,043 Given in donations to local nonprofit groups that align with our goal to improve the health and wellness of the communities we serve

Hours given back in 2018 by Great Plains Health employees volunteering to serve the community 22,265

148,103 Provider encounters


30 30

Medical and surgical specialties available

New local jobs created 2009 to 2019

Great Plains Physician Network clinics and outreach clinics in North Platte and throughout the region


$24,100 GAS

$2,800 WATER

$4,000 FUEL




¹Includes active medical staff and courtesy medical staff. | ²Estimate computed by Kenneth Lemke, PhD, Nebraska Public Power District, economic development division.


Community Impact | 2019–2020

A quick heart screening could save countless lives

Heart disease can happen to anyone, even super-fit athletes who’ve never smoked, eat a healthy diet and have no known risk factors. It’s the No. 1 cause of death in the United States. But with early detection, it doesn’t have to be.

measurement; and blood tests for glucose and cholesterol. The calcium score CT scan, says Dr. Kirubakaran, is most important. “Just looking at a person’s profile, there’s really no good way to determine if they’ll have a heart attack,” he explains. “It could happen without an inkling that something bad is going on. The calcium score CT changes that.” If someone’s calcium score is zero on a cardiac CT, it means they have no calcified plaque in their arteries and their chance of developing a heart attack is very low. Higher scores mean higher levels of plaque buildup, indicating the severity of their heart disease. This knowledge opens the door to life-changing, and often simple, treatments. “There is powerful evidence that if someone has plaque buildup in their arteries and is put on the proper type and dose of statin, their risk of heart attack drops dramatically,” says Dr. Kirubakaran. +

“In the last 20 years, we’ve had the technology to understand who is likely to develop heart disease, and treatments that can drastically reduce heart attack risk for 90 to 95 percent of those people,” explains Azariah Kirubakaran, MD, a cardiologist at the Great Plains Health Heart Institute. Dr. Kirubakaran’s goal is to eventually screen everyone in Lincoln County for heart disease. Someday, he’d like to see these 10-to-15-minute screenings, including a seconds-long scan, become as routine in preventive care as vaccinations. He says every man over age 40 and woman over 50 should be screened. Smokers, those with a family history of heart disease, and those with diabetes or hypertension should seek screenings sooner. Anyone with chest pain or shortness of breath should seek medical care immediately. At Great Plains Health Heart Institute, screening includes a cardiac calcium score CT scan, which detects calcified plaque in the lining of the arteries; a blood pressure check and body mass index (BMI)

“In the last 20 years, we’ve had the technology to understand who is likely to develop heart disease, and treatments that can drastically reduce heart attack risk for 90 to 95 percent of those people.”

Azariah Kirubakaran, MD

GPHealth’s heart health screenings only cost $50.

People with zero, or very low, calcium scores won’t need another screening for five or six years. Those with plaque buildup should seek immediate follow-up care and treatment. To schedule a screening, call 308.568.7455 . Appointments are available on the first and third Fridays of each month.


Cutting-edge cardiovascular care is closer than ever

You’re having symptoms of a heart attack or a blood clot in your leg or lungs. You call the paramedics or head to your closest emergency room, and you’re told you need immediate, lifesaving treatment. Decades ago, that might’ve meant a long ambulance ride or helicopter trip to Lincoln, potentially hundreds of miles from where you started. That’s no longer the case.

Meeting patients where they are

“We have two state-of-the-art Siemens catheterization labs at Great Plains Health, with 24/7 interventional cardiology coverage for patients with acute heart attacks or blood clots,” says Richard Markiewicz, MD, a cardiologist at Great Plains Health Heart Institute. “We can open an artery right away with stents. We can support very sick patients, using the Impella ventricular assist device to serve as an artificial pump for a weakened heart as we open an artery. We can implant pacemakers and defibrillators if there are rhythm issues.” “Time equals muscle,” says Dr. Markiewicz. “These cath labs allow us to open an artery or remove a clot within 20 minutes of someone coming into our ER. For nearly 10 years, we’ve had the ability to treat patients locally for a wide variety of cardiovascular conditions – saving them valuable time when it comes to treatment, minimizing heart and vascular damage, and helping them heal close to home.”

Living in western Nebraska, northern Kansas and northern Colorado, GPHealth’s patient base is often “a long way from everywhere,” says Dr. Markiewicz. “They’re unlikely to travel far for non- emergent care,” he explains. “If we canmeet themat clinics out there for consultations and diagnostic tests, we can detect problems early and then bring them to North Platte if they need treatment.” Physicians like Dr. Markiewicz regularly drive 100-plus miles to extend specialty services to rural communities. This outreach also aids GPHealth providers in their mission to change the mentality that people need to travel very long distances when they need specialized care. “In many cases, patients need to be their own advocates, to say they want to go to the closest hospital available offering state-of-the-art cardiovascular care – and often that’s Great Plains Heath,” he says. +

“Inmany cases, patients need to be their own advocates, to say they want to go to the closest hospital available offering state- of-the-art cardiovascular

care – and often that’s Great Plains Heath.”

Richard Markiewicz, MD

“These cath labs allow us to open an artery or remove a clot within 20 minutes of someone coming into our ER.” RichardMarkiewicz, MD


Community Impact | 2019–2020

Celebrating success and looking ahead

Every three years, Great Plains Health, together with many community partners, evaluates the community’s greatest healthcare needs. For 2016–2019, GPHealth identified the following six priorities and reported these associated actions. 1 Increased access to mental and behavioral healthcare and education plan,” says Fiona Libsack, GPHealth chief development officer. “Her presence in the clinic has made a difference for many children and their families. facility and outpatient clinic. Community discussions have also begun about bringing

detox services into the community. 2 Increased prevention and education to address chronic diseases, preventable conditions, readmissions and high mortality rates The physician-led Great Plains Health Innovation Network and the GPHealth Innovation Committee placed monitoring devices in select local nursing homes to reduce unnecessary hospitalizations.

GPHealth established a suicide-prevention task force, enhanced suicide-prevention education and continued to offer a 19-bed inpatient behavioral health unit, the only inpatient program in a 100-mile radius. Licensed mental health care practitioner Fran Rieken joined Great Plains Pediatrics in October 2018 as part of a partnership with the University of Nebraska Medical Center Munroe-Meyer Institute. “Already, Fran has been able to intervene with teens who were experiencing suicidal ideations with an intent to carry out a

In August 2019, Geentanjali Sahu, MD, became the first child and adolescent psychiatrist recruited to Lincoln County. “Our community is very blessed to have someone of Dr. Sahu’s experience and expertise,” says Libsack. “Prior to her arrival, many of our adolescents were leaving the community for mental healthcare or went unserved.” Looking forward, GPHealth is exploring the recruitment of additional psychiatrists and will continue to provide an inpatient

The GPfit! initiative, now in its seventh year, hosted fitness, education and risk-


professionals. The health system added 17 new telehealth services, as well as new service lines including plastic surgery and a headache center of excellence. Looking forward, GPHealth will work toward filling physician needs prioritized in the medical staff needs assessment and expand services to include gastroenterology, robotic surgery and medical weight loss programs. 6 Collaboration with local organizations to improve community health GPHealth worked with West Central District Health Department and other area agencies toward improving community health. Aligning priorities helped organizations gain traction on major issues that impact health as we work to remove barriers and identify solutions. GPHealth will continue to work on established priorities, with an additional focus on dental health. To increase access, WCDHD offers on-site preventive dental services to all schools within the WCDHD region. For 2018–2019, this included North Platte, Maxwell and Wallace public schools and 2,681 total patients. WCDHD and GPHealth are working together, and seek other partnerships, to fill gaps when it comes to dental and medical care. “While there has been progress, there are still areas where improvement and community support are needed,” says Vanderheiden. Short-term goals include a GPHealth camp for children with type 1 diabetes, continuing Friends & Family CPR classes and continued employee and community blood drives for the American Red Cross. +

reduction programs, including GPHealth’s Couch to 5K program, which helped 460 participants get moving. Melanoma Monday screenings drew 280 participants from 2016 through 2019, leading to the detection of 17 cancers. GPHealth also added a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease navigator and a lactation consultant. In three years, GPHealth employees raised $53,000 through our employee United Way Campaign, and the Great Plains Gives committee gave approximately $100,000 per year to nonprofit organizations. Looking forward, GPHealth will continue to offer community education, partner with local organizations, and adopt policies and programs to improve health and wellness among patients and the community. 3 Increased access to safe and affordable housing GPHealth helped lead the Shot in the Arm program, through which developers committed to build 118 homes through 2020; worked with communitymembers to advocate for stronger city code enforcement; participated in a media push to raise awareness about the health effects of unsafe housing; and participated in state-level testimony to increase housing funding in rural Nebraska. Looking forward, GPHealth will continue to provide leadership on local housing task forces and in programs designed to promote employee home ownership. 4 Utilize technology to improve access to medical care GPHealth expanded our emergency department, heart program and hyperbaric service; doubled outreach clinics across the region; tripled

“While there has been progress, there are still areas where improvement and community support are needed. Great Plains Health has been a good partner.”

Shannon Vanderheiden Executive director at WCDHD

telemedicine services; added approximately 30 allied health professionals to our medical care model; and installed Epic electronic health record software for streamlined medical records management. Looking forward, GPHealth will continue to explore ways to integrate and optimize Epic and expand both inbound and outbound telehealth programs. 5 Continued recruitment and retention of healthcare professionals From 2016 through 2019, GPHealth hired 38 physicians and 30 allied health


Community Impact | 2019–2020

Battling a new epidemic with awareness

“I am trying to get the message out to kids that vaping is not cool, safe or healthy.”

Andy Gochenour Great Plains Health RRT

In November 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified vitamin E acetate, an additive in the production of THC vaping products, as the first possible culprit behind the recent vaping-related lung illness that has sickened more than 2,000 people and killed 40 across the United States.

and poor air exchange – and is following CDC updates and working with community partners to discourage vaping throughout the community. “We question patients with symptoms of respiratory distress about vaping, current and past, what they use in their vape and how long they have been using,” says Robin Dimmitt, a paramedic who works in the Great Plains Health emergency room. Guido Molina, MD, a pulmonologist at GPHealth, says he hasn’t seen anything like the national EVALI outbreak before.

Whatever its cause, the outbreak of EVALI has been unprecedented. It’s disproportionately affecting young people, with 79 percent of patients under the age of 35. Cases are likely to continue to rise, and they may become more complicated to diagnose as flu season hits its peak. Medical staff is on the lookout for red flag symptoms – such as severe shortness of breath, wheezing

The illness, known as EVALI – e-cigarette or vaping product use associated lung injury – has largely been linked to illicit THC products. This does not rule out the possibility that other substances could also be playing a role. There are reports of some patients diagnosed with EVALI who bought from licensed dispensaries or vaped nicotine products only.


“Children are being targetedwithmessaging of ‘they taste good, they couldn’t be harmful, right?’ I amhearing of kids as young as 8, 9 or 10 years old using these products, which has to have a negative impact on their lungs and health.”

Andy Gochenour, Great Plains Health RRT

“If a student is caught vaping, they are required to take an online, three-hour course educating them on the dangers of vaping and offering support for quitting,” says Ron Hanson, superintendent of North Platte Public Schools. At Stapleton Public Schools, there is a zero-tolerance policy for vaping, says Polly Burnside, a family and consumer science teacher who is coordinating initiatives there. “Several high school students have been caught vaping on school grounds, and they were put in in-school suspension,” she says. “These incidents prompted our schools to look for a speaker that could give our students some facts about the dangers of vaping. [Parent and paramedic] Robin Dimmitt connected us with Mr. Gochenour, who spoke to my seventh-grade FCS class and to 6th through 12th graders at our school. He was very informative, sharing the history of vaping and what vaping can do to a person’s lungs.” Burnside says that the schools are continuing tomonitor students and encouraging them to know the facts before they put any harmful chemicals in their bodies.

He is worried about the e-cigarette industry’s obvious targeting of young people. “Children are being targeted withmessaging of ‘they taste good, they couldn’t be harmful, right?’” Gochenour says. “I am hearing of kids as young as 8, 9 or 10 years old using these products, which has to have a negative impact on their lungs and health. We are trying to get the message out to kids that vaping is not cool, safe or healthy.” Abstinence is the only way to prevent EVALI. “Once the damage is done, all that we can do as clinicians is optimize what is left of healthy lung tissue and try to manage symptoms as they arise,” he explains. Gochenour encourages patients who vape to turn to resources such as the Nebraska Quit Line, which has counselors available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

“There are several diseases that can behave like it, including acute interstitial pneumonia, cryptogenic organizing pneumonia, eosinophilic pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome,” says Molina. “Any disease that affects your lungs acutely can be fatal.” Dr. Molina says that, right now, EVALI is a diagnosis of exclusion. Early examination and diagnosis are crucial so physicians can rule out any other potential causes. It is vital that patients immediately stop using e-cigarettes and start steroids, if indicated, quickly. GPHealth offers counseling and medical therapies, and has embarked on community initiatives, to help people quit vaping. “We’ve been working with Dr. Molina to educate people for free, to try and arrest the damage being done to their bodies by choice,” says Andy Gochenour, RRT, respiratory therapy supervisor at GPHealth. “Trying to steer adolescents away from this activity is especially important.” Gochenour speaks at schools and gets the word out to the community about vaping use and associated dangers through the Great Plains Better Breathers Club Facebook page. Avoidance is the only answer

Partnering with local schools, to meet kids where they are, is also essential.

Trying to stop vaping where it starts

North Platte Public Schools gives parents informational materials at parent-teacher conferences, supervises hallways and restrooms and puts stall stickers in restrooms to educate students about the dangers of EVALI.

“We are hopeful that our students are listening.” +


Community Impact | 2019–2020

Meeting the mental health needs of youth

Lowering Lincoln County’s suicide rate

Be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to mental health. That’s the advice offered by two Great Plains Health mental and behavioral health professionals who regularly work with local children and teens.

Kevin Hines

Enhancing behavioral health services is one way Great Plains Health is helping to combat the rising rate of suicide, the 10th leading cause of death in Nebraska. A GPHealth committee is now working to reduce the rate in Lincoln County and surrounding areas by half by the end of 2021. “We are working to ensure access to quality care by enhancing behavioral health services and education,” says Tamara Martin-Linnard, chief clinical officer. “We’re also developing an assembly program and live cast featuring GPHealth staff discussing suicide prevention; trainings for BHS clinic staff and school guidance counselors; a public awareness campaign; and interdepartmental communications.” In 2020, the committee will bring Kevin Hines, a suicide prevention speaker, to North Platte. As a teen, Hines struggled to accept his mental illness diagnosis and battled suicidal thoughts and paranoid delusions. “Mental illness is how I found myself atop the Golden Gate Bridge, but the jump is not the most important part of the story,” says Hines. “When my hands left the rail, it was an instant regret and I thought that I had just made the biggest mistake of my life. That’s why I share my journey since then and the importance of never silencing your pain.” + GPHealth will be announcing the date, times and location for Mr. Hines presentation in the coming weeks through local and social media.


common psychosocial stressors impacting kids and teens at home,” says Geetanjali Sahu, MD, a child and adolescent psychiatrist who joined Great Plains Health in September 2019. “Bullying is the most common stressor kids encounter at school, and particularly in middle school. It doesn’t take long to shatter someone’s self-esteem by telling them repeatedly that they’re not worth anything, and the impacts are significant and lifelong.” In its Community Health Needs Assessment, Great Plains Health identified increased access to mental and behavioral healthcare and education as one of the community’s six most significant needs. To meet that need, and meet it early, the health system hired Fran Rieken, a provisional licensed mental health practitioner at Great Plains Pediatrics in 2018, and Dr. Sahu as part of the psychiatric services team in 2019. Both promote involvement and support as the keys to better mental health among youth, which will translate to mentally healthy adults in the future. Both Dr. Sahu and Rieken tell parents who are concerned about their children’s mental health to look for specific symptoms like significant behavioral changes; changes in sleep, appetite and concentration; complaints of being physically tired all the time; or frequent worrying. “More worrisome signs include a child cutting themselves or talking about suicide, any signs of substance abuse or intoxication, or finding drug paraphernalia,” says Dr. Sahu. “Parents are pretty good at picking up on these signs. They know their kids the best and need to be aware of what’s going on. In many cases, what young people need is more supervision. Talk to your kids daily. Know what they do and who they’re with.” Parents and school districts should take bullying seriously, devoting attention to both the child being bullied and the Be there and aware

According to the World Health Organization, half of all mental health conditions begin by age 14, but signs of these issues are often undetected and untreated in most youth. Environmental stressors at home and at school often precipitate symptoms in kids and teens, which can be compounded by a genetic predisposition in some young people. “Family dysfunction, parents’ marital discord, lack of supervision, parental drug use and/or family financial struggles are

“Inmany cases, what young people need is more supervision. Talk to your kids daily. Know what they do andwho they’re with.”

Geetanjali Sahu, MD

bully. That serious approach can start with finding ways to build empathy in young children and letting older kids know someone is always there – at home and at school – to listen to their problems and help them find solutions. Whilemany issues could be handled just by offeringmore support and supervision, Dr. Sahu and Rieken agree that therapy and medication when deemed appropriate can be a helpful next step. If patients are suicidal, Dr. Sahu recommends more frequent sessions or inpatient hospitalizations and helps families develop safety plans. “What we do, and what we encourage parents, friends and schools to do, is to let young people know someone is concerned about them,” says Sahu. “There are people available when they want to reach out.” +


Community Impact | 2019–2020

Lending a helping hand

Uncompensated care

Charity | Bad debt | Uninsured | Total free care

$22,005,084 $8,763,922 $6,257,741 $6,983,421

$30,735,983 $10,687,631 $10,376,940 $9,671,412

$29,541,575 $8,372,049 $9,900,225 $11,269,301

$17,517,466 $6,620,576 $15,494,252 $39,632,294





2018 local spending

Travel $30,064

Property & vehicle taxes

$ 332,664

Physician related $257,693

Drugs $7,233

Local donations

$ 136,117


$ 101,822,049

Construction & capital $2,440,593

Supplies & equipment $705,294

North Platte spending

$ 110,809,821

Other Nebraska spending

$ 15,826,824

Total Nebraska spending

$ 126,636,646

Utilities $1,202,365

Services $1,706,378

Rent & food $2,169,372


Great Plains

The goal of the Great Plains Gives committee, the charitable giving arm of Great Plains Health, is to inspire health and healing in the communities we serve. To offer opportunities for every member of our community to find his or her way to wellness, we partner with local organizations, provide financial resources to assist nonprofits that help the people and communities of our region, and support our employees and physicians in their volunteering endeavors.

Great Plains Health providedmany significant donations to community organizations in the past year, including:

+ Bridge of Hope Child Advocacy Center + Community Connections + Golden Games + Hershey Lions Club + Lincoln County CASA + Mid-Nebraska Community Foundation + Mid-Plains Community College + Mid-Plains United Way

+ NEBRASKAland DAYS + North Platte Area Chamber & Development + North Platte Area Children’s Museum + North Platte Buffalo Bill Kiwanis Club + North Platte Catholic Schools + North Platte Community Playhouse + North Platte Kids Academy + North Platte Noon Rotary Club

+ North Platte Public Schools + North Platte Trails Network + Other local schools + People’s Family Health Services + Platte River Fitness Series + Prairie Arts Center + Rape/Domestic Abuse Program of North Platte + Town Hall Lecture Series

We are proud to call the North Platte region home and grateful to the individuals and organizations who share in our mission and work to ensure its success. To request a Great Plains Gives donation or sponsorship, please visit .

Community Impact | 2019–2020

2020 Wellness Calendar

May May 4, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Melanoma Monday Platte Valley Skin Clinic 825 South Willow Street, North Platte

February February 4, 5 to 8 p.m. Family and Friends CPR Great Plains Health Education Center, Rooms B & C 601 West Leota Street, North Platte February 12, 12 to 1 p.m. Joint replacement discussion with Dr. Hannah Great Plains Health Education Center, Room B 601 West Leota Street, North Platte



May 9, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Stroke Screening Great Plains Health Education Center, Rooms A, B & C 601 West Leota Street, North Platte July July 13–17 Camp Roar: Youth diabetes camp Camp Maranatha 16800 East Maranatha Road, Maxwell July 14 GPFit! Couch to 5K training workouts begin. *Final 5K is October 4



March March 11, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Diabetes cooking class



Great Plains Health Education Center 601 West Leota Street, North Platte

March 18, 5 to 9 p.m. Great Plains Health Sports &Therapy Center Annual coaches’ dinner and program Holiday Inn Express 300 Holiday Frontage Road, North Platte



August August 6, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

April April 8, 12 to 1 p.m.


Teatime talk about Parkinson’s disease with Dr. Kumar Great Plains Health Education Center, Rooms A & B 601 West Leota Street, North Platte


Joint replacement discussion with Dr. Shukla Great Plains Health Education Center, Room C 601 West Leota Street, North Platte April 8, 5 to 8 p.m. Family and Friends CPR Great Plains Health Education Center, Rooms B & C 601 West Leota Street, North Platte

September September 10, 12 to 1 p.m.


Joint replacement discussion with Dr. Jacobson Great Plains Health Education Center, Room C 601 West Leota Street, North Platte September 24, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Union Pacific employee health fair Bailey Yard 1249 North Homestead Road, North Platte



1st Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m.

Weight loss surgery seminar with a surgeon Great Plains Health Education Center 601 West Leota Street, North Platte

November November 12, 12 to 1 p.m.


Joint replacement discussion with Dr. Correll Great Plains Health Education Center, Room C 601 West Leota Street, North Platte


Telehealth connects patients with convenient, cost-effective care

“ With telehealth, physicians can also seemore patients per day without having to travel longdistances – they can “meet” face to face even though they aremiles apart.”

Chastity Orr Telehealth coordinator

Reducing disruptions and anxiety for patients

Providers from across Nebraska and other states supplement the services of GPHealth for specialties when GPHealth providers are unavailable. This prevents patients from needing to be transferred to other facilities. GPHealth oncology providers are also leading the way in connecting with other hospitals to provide patient care. Telehealth reduces the need for costly travel and lodging, keeps patients from missing work and helps them avoid medical bills frommultiple facilities and medical transport costs. With telehealth, physicians can also see more patients per day without having to travel long distances – they can “meet” face to face even though they are miles apart. Partnering with other telehealth providers also helps reduce specialist burnout. “Great Plains Health is continually striving tomeet the needs of our community and our surrounding communities,” Orr says. “We will work hard to keep patients’ treatments in their communities to decrease the burden on themand their families.” +

Great Plains Health’s commitment to growing services to meet the region’s needs by enhancing its telehealth capabilities has made a significant difference in making care more accessible and convenient.

GPHealth’s telehealth inpatient services currently include neurology, pulmonology, stroke, infectious disease, nephrology and radiology. Telehealth clinics include pediatric behavioral health, pediatric genetics, pediatric cardiology, complex thyroid, neurology/multiple sclerosis and oncology genetics, chemotherapy and oncology. “We have originating clinics in Grant, Valentine, McCook and Benkelman, with plans to expand,” Orr says. While the health system doesn’t yet have the capability for patients to connect with providers from home, we are looking at ways to add it.

“With telehealth, at one of our complex thyroid clinics, a patient was able to have a “virtual visit,” taking what was once an 8.5-hour trip – round trip to Omaha and the doctor’s visit – and turning it into a 40-minute appointment, including drive time,” says Chastity Orr, telehealth coordinator at Great Plains Health. Telehealth has also increased the number of patients Great Plains Health is able to serve. “When we only had one nephrology provider in 2016, we were able to conduct 83 dialysis treatments,” Orr says. “In 2018, with one on- site provider and our tele-nephrology group, we provided 249 dialysis treatments.”


601 W. Leota St. | P.O. Box 1167 North Platte, NE 69103-1167 308.568.8000 |

Great Plains Health complies with applicable Federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability or sex. Language assistance services: ATTENTION : Language assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 1.308.568.7200 (TTY: 1.308.568.7200). ATENCIÓN : Si habla español, tiene a su disposición servicios gratuitos de asistencia lingüística. Llame al 1.308.568.7200 (TTY: 1.308.568.7200). CHÚ Ý : Nếu bạn nói Tiếng Việt, có các dịch vụ hỗ trợ ngôn ngữ miễn phí dành cho bạn. Gọi số 1.308.568.7200 (TTY: 1.308.568.7200).

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