Written by Jaimee Green
In rural Montana, visits to see a medical specialist often mean the inconvenience of logging many highway miles and costly travel expenses. Telemedicine is changing all of that; widening the footprint of what services patients can receive right in their own hometown.
For over a decade, Northeast Montana Health Services has been using Telemed technology to make it easy for patients to have appointments with medical specialists and attend follow-up visits without ever leaving the city limits.
Because of their efforts, NEMHS recently received a plaque from the Eastern Montana Health Network recognizing their dedication to utilizing Telemed technology during a retreat attended by staff members from Riverside Clinic in Poplar.
The annual conference took place Aug. 14-16 in Billings. Lauri Handy, Telemed presenter and Registered Nurse, accepted the plaque on behalf of NEMHS.
Because living in the remote area of northeast Montana poses a number of healthcare challenges, the use of a cooperative network of technology and professional expertise allows NEMHS to use two-way interactive video conferencing technology to deliver specialist medical services. The concept is simple. A patient in Poplar can attend a regularly, locally scheduled exam while a physician in Billings conducts the exam remotely via video conferencing.
Telemed has been used in rural areas of Montana for 20 years and at NEMHS since 2001. Originally, the remote capabilities were only used for continuing education for staff. This allowed NEMHS employees to keep up with their required credentialing without having to miss excess work needed for travel time and the costs associated with it.
In recent years, the technology has become better adapted for patient use through ease of use and fluidity. Today, NEMHS works in collaboration most often with Billings Clinic and Saint Vincent’s Hospital, in Billings, but also uses other facilities as needed.
“People say a picture is worth a thousand words,” said Lauri Handy. “With Telemedicine, video conferencing brings specialists right to the bedside, allowing them to see what’s happening and collaborate with on-site providers to provide the best possible care to our patients.”
Last year, Telemed benefitted 40 patients at NEMHS. This year, 35 patients have used it so far.
“By implementing this into our facility we have been able to improve the continuity of patient care. We are able to treat patients seamlessly without them having to travel around the state to receive their specialist care while spending money on travel expenses. The patients seem to really like the convenience it offers them,” said Judy Lauridsen, a NEMHS Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner.
The use of technology to link far-distant practitioners has been steadily increasing in American medicine, particularly as a tool to provide rural and underserved communities with access to specialty physicians. More recently, telemedicine has been used for consultations to emergency rooms with NEMHS having the capability of utilizing Telemed for emergent pediatrics, along with oncology, nephrology, rheumatology, neurology, cardiology, behavioral health, and otolaryngology, (ear, nose and throat). Burn patients who may otherwise have to travel as far as Salt Lake City to the regions burn center for care also utilize Telemed technology.
“Some people simply wouldn’t receive the specialty care they need without this technology because they don’t have the means to travel or aren’t well enough to get there. This program is improving the healthcare outcomes of our patients while making it more cost effective for them,” said Handy.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 August 2013 08:43
Written by The Herald-News
Two special access agreements reached between private landowners and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks will improve opportunities this fall for bighorn sheep hunters in the Missouri River Breaks south of Havre.
The access agreements allow private lands within the Sanford and Brewer ranches to be legally accessed for free by sheep hunters who have drawn licenses in Hunting District 680.
Access to these private lands in turn connects to thousands of acres of public lands that would otherwise be difficult to access. Except for coyotes on the Sanford Ranch, other types of hunting are not covered by the agreements.
The Sanford Ranch is located along the Ragland Bench south of the Cow Island Trail off Lloyd Road. The agreement between the ranch owners and FWP runs from Sept. 5 to Dec. 1 and allows up to one bighorn ram party and three bighorn ewe parties to access the land per week. Other provisions include:
•Beginning Aug. 22 and at least a week in advance of their trip, hunters can call FWP’s Havre office at 406-262-6177 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday to reserve their access to the Sanford Ranch property. Permission will be granted on a first-come, first-served basis.
•Access can be reserved for up to a week. If a hunt is completed earlier than planned, the Havre FWP office will need to be notified to cancel any remaining days. Other cancellations will also be handled through the Havre office.
•Hunters must receive their permission slip, vehicle tag, and map of the ranch prior to using the property.
•No camping or fires are allowed on the private land.
•No access will be allowed during wet and muddy periods. During periods of heavy rain or snow, hunters will need to park and walk.
•No off-road driving is allowed, and hunters must stay on designated access roads.
The Brewer Ranch is also located south of the Cow Island Trail off Eskay and Brewer roads. This access agreement is also in effect from Sept. 5 to Dec. 1. Other provisions state:
•Up to two parties of bighorn ram hunters and three bighorn ewe hunting parties are allowed on the Brewer property per week.
•Beginning Aug. 22, hunters can contact the landowner at 406-386-2439 to gain permission, which will be granted on a first-come, first-served basis.
•Hunters can receive permission to access the Brewer Ranch for up to a week-long period. If they complete their hunt earlier than planned, hunters will need to contact the landowner to cancel the remaining days. If they are unable to hunt in their designated time slot, they also must contact the landowner to cancel their reservation.
•As with the Sanford property, hunters must receive their permission slip, vehicle tag, and map prior to accessing the land.
•No fires are allowed on private land on the Brewer Ranch.
•No vehicle access will be permitted during wet and muddy periods, and no off-road driving is allowed.
•Permission to use the Brewer Ranch property will be granted for up to one week at a time and will be documented on the permission slip and car tag. Permission to hunt additional weeks must be obtained separately.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 August 2013 09:15
Written by The Herald-News
The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission is seeking comment on proposed 2014 fishing regulations.
The proposed regulations for March 2014 through February 2015 would retain most of the current regulations with some changes being proposed for the Western and Central fishing districts.
*Little Bitterroot Lake - No bag limit on bass to protect the kokanee fishery and help suppress this illegally introduced fish.
*North Fork Flathead River - Allow for the harvest of hybridized rainbow trout to protect pure cutthroat trout populations.
*Silver Lake - Close the shoreline to fishing around the mouth of Storm Lake Creek seasonally to protect mature, migratory bull trout.
*Storm Lake Creek - Close the creek to fishing downstream of the Silver Lake Diversion dam seasonally to protect mature, migratory bull trout.
*Warm Springs Creek - Close the creek to fishing 50 yards downstream from the Myers Dam to protect mature, migratory bull trout.
*Canyon Ferry Reservoir - Lower the bag limit for yellow perch to 10 fish and raise the bag limit for walleye to 12 fish to conserve the perch population.
*Hauser Reservoir - Lower the bag limit for yellow perch to 10 fish and restrict harvest in the spring to conserve the perch population.
*Holter Reservoir - Remove the length slot limit for walleye to improve harvest opportunities and reduce numbers.
*Pelican Point Pond #1 - No bag limit on northern pike to protect largemouth bass and yellow perch populations and to suppress these illegally introduced fish.
The proposed changes are available for review and comment on the FWP website at fwp.mt.gov click on Public Notice.
Comments must be received by Sept. 12. The Fish and Wildlife Commission will take final action on the regulations in October.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 August 2013 09:14
Written by The Herald-News
Montana farmers who want to experiment with growing winter canola should plant it in early September, says Perry Miller, professor of sustainable cropping systems at Montana State University.
That way, the canola will emerge by Sept. 15 and the crop will be on a timeline most suited for success, Miller said. If plants produce five leaves before winter, they have a good chance of survival. Canola that flowers from May 15 to June 15 will have the best yields because the seeds grow during the wettest time in Montana’s growing season.
“That’s the secret,” Miller said.
Miller said he isn’t encouraging Montana farmers to grow winter canola. But Montana farmers have been asking about his research, and planting time is almost here for those who want to try.
Miller has been researching winter canola in Montana for 10 years. He is also involved in a national study called the National Winter Canola Variety Evaluation trial that involves researchers as far away as Texas and Georgia. MSU’s Post Farm west of Bozeman is the northernmost site in the study.
That national study and his own research have shown that growing winter canola in Montana isn’t as big a risk as it once was because the genetics have improved and scientists have good knowledge about the crop’s management, Miller said. He has found, too, that the yield from winter canola can be twice as much as that of spring canola. Winter canola grown on the Post Farm yielded at least 60 bushels an acre during the last harvest. Spring canola has yielded about half that.
“It’s a huge deal,” Miller said.
But winter canola is a “brittle system,” Miller said. If one thing goes wrong, the crop can fail. If everything goes right, farmers hit a home run.
Snow at the right time can protect the seeds, but at the wrong time, it can rot them, Miller explained. Crops that were planted at the right time at the right depth can overwinter fine and still be destroyed by a cool, wet spring. In fact, spring conditions are one of the biggest challenges facing winter canola growers in Montana.
Besides timely planting, farmers who want to grow winter canola need to know how deep to plant the seeds and when to water them, Miller said. Broadcasting is relatively easy and cheap, but it’s best to plant the seeds a quarter- to half-inch deep in a defined furrow. He recommends that farmers plant 1.5 to two times the number of live seeds they would use for spring canola.
Seeding canola seed in tall wheat stubble is the worst for canola because it’s hard to get good seed-to-soil contact, and that stubble microclimate is too cool in the fall and spring during critical growth periods, Miller said. He advises farmers to do what they can to find a field that provides a warmer late fall and early spring microclimate.
Montanans are most likely to succeed at growing winter canola if they live in milder climates in the intermountain valleys, Miller said. It’s a good sign if their traditional winter wheat crop has survived 10 out of 10 years. Nevertheless, he suggests keeping the winter canola acreage small.
Dale Flikkema of Belgrade currently grows about 50 acres of winter canola and 250 acres of spring canola. With harvest a couple of weeks away, he said he was originally interested in winter canola for crop rotation purposes. In the process, he discovered that his yield from winter canola was about a third higher than spring canola. He sells his canola to Lethbridge, Alb., Canada, for use as a food oil product.
Flikkema was also one of six Montana farmers who grew winter canola a few years ago as part of an on-farm trial instigated by Miller. Four of the farmers, including Flikkema, farmed in Gallatin County. Two farmed in Broadwater County. Out of the six, Flikkema was the only one whose crop was considered a success with the yield monitor running from zero to 100 bushels an acre due to patchy survival.
“Paying attention to early seeding was huge,” he said.
Flikkema planted a week earlier than most of the other farmers in the study and was able to irrigate. He also farmed on the edge of the Gallatin Valley snowbelt, so he benefited from snow that fell and left at opportune times.
Miller said Montanans who want to try growing winter canola can buy canola seed from CROPLAN Genetics. He added that canola emerges five or six days after planting in the fall. One pulse of irrigation in the fall is generally enough.
For more information about growing winter canola and the latest research, contact Miller at 406-994-5431
Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 August 2013 15:13
Written by MSU News Service
This fall, Montana State University will offer an online graduate course on estate planning for families.
The three-credit course covers fundamentals of the estate planning process, including estate settlement, estate and gift taxes, property ownership and transfer, and powers of appointment. Additional topics include tools and techniques used in implementing an effective estate plan, ethical considerations in providing estate planning services, and new and emerging issues in the field. Case studies will provide experience in developing estate plans suitable for varied family forms.
The course is designed primarily for financial planners and those in related professions, as well as students enrolled in MSU’s online Family Financial Planning graduate program. Professionals who take the course may be able to later apply the credits toward a graduate degree.
The course runs from Aug. 26 through Dec. 13. The instructor is Deborah Haynes of MSU’s Department of Health and Human Development.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 August 2013 09:11