Residents of Graham County and the surrounding areas who need an X-ray to diagnose an injury or illness can now receive immediate diagnosis and treatment thanks to new digital radiology equipment. The new equipment was purchased jointly by Mission Healthcare Foundation and MAHEC Foundation for the Tallulah Health Center.
Jeffrey Heck, MD, CEO and President of MAHEC, is leading a partnership to manage 23 primary care practices of Mission Medical Associates, including Tallulah Health Center. “MAHEC’s goal for primary care is to ensure patients have access to the same high quality healthcare no matter where they live – Asheville or Robbinsville,” said Heck. “Putting digital X-ray in Tallulah is one tangible way we can improve care for patients, and it represents our commitment to rural medicine.”
Residents of rural communities often face challenges in healthcare that may include geographic barriers to state-of-the-art equipment. Prior to the purchase of this equipment, X-rays were taken daily at Tallulah Health Center, however, the film would then have to be driven more than 30 miles away to Murphy to be read. This was done once a week. With this digital equipment, X-rays now are taken and read within 30 minutes while the patient waits. This removes any delay in diagnosis and start of treatment.
“The addition of the digital X-ray provides higher quality images and gives immediate X-ray results,” said Patricia Johnson, MD, who has been practicing at Tallulah Health Center for more than 30 years. “This not only helps our patients receive excellent care, it is also a benefit in recruiting and retaining quality physicians.”
“Mission Medical Associates and MAHEC are working together with primary care practices like Tallulah Health Center to address the unique strengths and challenges of healthcare in rural communities,” said Jill Hoggard Green, PhD, RN, COO of Mission Health and President of Mission Hospital and Mission Medical Associates. “Purchase of equipment such as this digital X-ray machine is another step in our efforts to ensure access to high quality health services for every patient, no matter where in western North Carolina they may be.”
In February, Mission Health created the Rural Health Planning and Development department to specifically develop strategies and address healthcare in our rural western North Carolina communities.