News Alfa Supports Technology in Rural Health Care

Alfa Supports Technology in Rural Health Care

Alfa Supports Technology in Rural Health Care
June 2, 2023 |

By Maggie Edwards

Partners from Auburn University (AU), Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES), the Alfa Companies and Chambers County gathered in LaFayette April 21 to dedicate one of four OnMed Care Stations in the U.S.

The walk-up telemedicine booth promises to give thousands of rural residents access to health care without traveling to the next county.

LaFayette City Fire Chief and Emergency Medical Services Director Jim Doody said the need for this project came to light when the COVID-19 pandemic began, noting there is not an urgent care or hospital in Chambers County.

“The fire station lobby ended up becoming the de facto medical clinic,” Doody said. “We knew we needed to improve our way of providing health care. This has been blood, sweat and tears for the last three years.” 

LaFayette’s OnMed Care Station is the first of its kind in Alabama. The innovative patient-care station helps rural residents virtually interact with health care professionals to receive treatment.

A visit to the OnMed Station is simple: Walk in, press start, get an exam and walk out. A clinician appears on the screen within seconds of entering the station, which is the size of an office cubicle. The innovative care-delivery company describes its virtual doctor visits as clean, private, accessible, affordable, secure and convenient. 

OnMed is found inside the newly renovated Chambers County Community Health and Wellness Center, which offers exam rooms, virtual health screening and more. 

Doody said he hopes to see this health clinic concept catch on in rural communities. OnMed now has locations in Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Texas. 

“This can be done anywhere, but it benefits a lot of small towns,” he said. “The numbers of people who could be impacted are endless.” 

OnMed Chief Commercial Officer Howard Gruverman said the health care station combines innovation and traditional medicine.

“You get all kinds of technology, such as a drop-down stethoscope,” Gruverman said. “We take your blood pressure, pulse, oxygen and weight. It can take thermography to see if you have an infection in your sinuses or check your temperature. We basically create a better patient experience, as well as a better clinic experience.” 

A bevy of community leaders and partners helped dedicate a new rural health care clinic in LaFayette April 21.

Gruverman praised OnMed’s partnership with ACES and AU. AU student nurses and pharmacists work at the Chambers County Community Health and Wellness Center. It’s a win-win, said AU’s Linda Gibson-Young.

“As a professor, we have undergraduate and graduate students we can bring into the community. We can connect them with other disciplines,” said Gibson-Young, an AU College of Nursing professor. “We can all work together to manage patients’ care using our expertise. Those students can now come into this environment and really connect with rural health.”

The building opens doors for families, patients, adults and the elderly to receive health care, she added.

Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Insurance partnered with Blue Cross Blue Shield, AU, ACES and Chambers County leaders to fund the OnMed Care Station. 

“Our mission has always been to help folks in rural areas, whether in agriculture or family science,” said Federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan. “Health care is important. We need to bring this technology to rural communities so they can get the health care access they need.” 

View Related Articles