County moves ahead with telehealth initiative
Milam County Commissioners approved the placement of an integrated healthcare station at the Sheriff’s Office in Cameron during a meeting May 11, taking another step towards telehealth coming to the county.
Texas A&M made the request to install an integrated healthcare station in the lobby of the Milam County Sheriff’s Office. The integrated healthcare station was originally going to be in Rockdale, but the location was changed based on timeline of the project, cost and Texas A&M safety requirements according to Dr. Joy Alonzo with the Texas A&M Health Science Center.
Alonzo was on hand to talk with Milam County residents in January about the possibility of new health care options in the county in several meetings.
The Moonshot initiative, a $10 million grant through Blue Cross Blue Shield, is funding a research project to find a solution to the loss of health care services in rural communities across the country.
Alonzo and her team chose Milam County as a pilot project for several different things that will help with emergency response in the county. She said they chose the county due to the recent closure of the hospitals and its proximity to College Station.
Alonzo said Texas has lost about 15 critical access hospitals in the last year.
The project is working to establish a volunteer EMT corps across the county to respond when all of the ambulances are out on call.
The grant will fund a phone app and medical supply bags for the responders. They are hoping to get 30 volunteers for this project. This will help extend the “golden hour” for patients.
It will also establish after hours care and assessment through remote telemedicine stations that will allow patients to see a doctor and get medicine without going to urgent care or the hospital.
Alonzo recently said the mobile application prototype is nearing completion and initial testing of the app will begin in June. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, recruitment for first responders will be limited to individuals with currect EMR/ECA accreditiation.
She said the demonstration phase of the integrated healthcare station is expected to begin at some point in May. There will be no cost to the county to place the station at the Sheriff’s Office.
The study will run for two years and then the county can choose what to do from there.
If you would like more information about the project, go to moonshotp2.tamu.edu
Move from downtown
Commissioners also discussed and took action on several other topics during the meeting including an update from County Judge Steve Young on the possible move to the old hospital building.
“We have been working for a year and a half on this project,” Young said. “We finally have finished plans and those are out for bid. We will leave them out until June 19. We will also do a walk-through on June 4 for any bidders that are interested.”
Young said there is a funding in the CARES Act for infrastructure project grants. He said he has written up a grant for the county that would fund the move to the hospital along with the renovation of the building and the professional building for use as a clinic.
He said the City of Cameron is also applying for grant funds through the program.
“What has helped is that the City of Cameron and the City Industrial Foundation has also submitted a grant for improvements to the streets of downtown Cameron along with other things,” Young said. “Those two applications work together and that would really help us all out. If they get the money to make downtown look better it helps the sale of those buildings.”
He said there is no known date for the results of the funding at this point.
Young said another mobile testing date is set for May 18 in Milano at the Fire Station. The number to call in the get screened for testing will be released later this week.
On the economic development front Young said Whinstone is planning a big expansion and construction is ongoing. They are currently working on their third building construction right now.
“We got all those abatements done at the last meeting and that will be a sizeable revenue stream for the county,” he said.
Several solar projects are underway across the county.
The county is also working on a website to promote shopping in the county and working on a Facebook page also.
Young said the county has spent around $230,000 on the Thrasher project and they are just about finished with it. He has plans to put up a sign on the billboard on the property that says Milam County A Cleaner Place to Live. He is working to get a good appraisal on the property.