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Critical care specialist only a click away for one hospital

When Neal Evans collapsed after business hours and underwent surgery for diverticulitis at Haywood Regional Medical Center, one of his doctors was hands on. Another was hundreds of miles away, because the small hospital doesn't staff critical care physicians around the clock.(Photo credit: WLOS staff)

Neal Evans collapsed after business hours and underwent surgery for diverticulitis at Haywood Regional Medical Center.

One of his doctors was hands on. Another was hundreds of miles away, because the small hospital doesn't staff critical care physicians around the clock.

The telemedicine option -- to consult one-on-one with a specialist by internet -- is especially important during nights and weekends.

"We are able to provide critical care services immediately on the spot to the doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists," said Dr. Vikas Punjabi, a board certified tele-intensivist.

The telemedicine service allowed providers at Haywood Regional to get moving with 57-year-old Evans, and other patients in distress like him.

"You don't have to be transported by ambulance or helicopter," explained Haywood Regional Hospitalist Dr. David Hegerich. "It allows them to get the optimal care right away."

Punjabi added, "I'm really happy I'm able to use technology to help patients in rural communities and very distant communities that don't otherwise have critical care specialists. I'm really glad I'm part of this frontier."

"I have grandbabies, and I want to see them live their lives," insisted Evans.

He likely will because he got a second chance thanks to a doctor online.

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