“I was being stubborn, it was late in the evening when I came in because it got to where I couldn’t walk on it,” explained Lamar patient Steve James.

It forced James to go to Cox Barton County Hospital. He saw an ER doctor and nurses.

But, he also consulted with physician out of Nebraska — a first for the hospital.

“It was just amazing to me. Unbelievable that even could happen,” James added.

It’s the new telehealth hospitalist program for Cox Barton County.

Dr. Brandon Effink is one of the experts who dials in remotely, in his case, from Nebraska.

“The video didn’t take too long and I can listen with my stethoscope,” Dr. Effink explained. “Everything sounded okay and the video went well.”

A team effort – staff on site follow through with exams and testing.

Dr. Effink can review results like blood work and x-rays digitally and form a diagnosis.

“Our first case there in Missouri — my first time legally seeing a patient in Missouri, it was great,” Effink added.

It helps Cox Barton County stretch resources – the budget can’t handle a hospitalist on staff overnights and weekends. But now, the service is there when they need it, making sure patients have the healthcare they need.

“Being able to have a doctor who is really on-call 24 hours a day — being a smaller hospital, we don’t have the luxury of a lot of doctors,” explained Paul Stebbins with Cox ER.

The Cox Barton County emergency room continues to staff a doctor 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

But, the telehealth connection means off-hours patients can connect with someone in Nebraska or other remote sites. They just started the program earlier this month and say so far, it’s a big success.