St. Mary’s Healthcare Center has received $339,415 from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to put in place eEmergency technology, the hospital announced Friday.

eEmergency is an innovative service that will link St. Mary’s Healthcare Center to emergency trained physicians at Avera in Sioux Falls via two-way video  equipment 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“This program isn’t designed to replace the local physician. It’s designed to enhance him or her. We know it’s impossible to have a cardiologist on 24 hours a day or a neurologist on 24 hours a day at the drop of a hat when emergencies do occur,” said Walter Panzirer, trustee of the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

 “So this fills in the gaps.”

Panzirer said the technology will give St. Mary’s staff the ability to confer with board-certified emergency physicians and emergency-trained nurses at Avera in the event of an emergency situation such as a heart attack or stroke in the middle of the night, for example, or if there is a mass casualty accident.

The technology is already available in 65 hospitals across Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. One of the sites where it is already available is Gettysburg Medical Center, which is part of St. Mary’s, where it became available in August 2011. Other South Dakota sites include Aberdeen, Britton, Dell Rapids, Flandreau, Freeman, Gregory, Madison, Milbank, Miller, Mitchell, Parkston, Platte, Redfield, Scotland, Tyndall, Wagner, Wessington Springs and Yankton.

Joseph Messmer, interim president and CEO of St. Mary’s Healthcare Center, said implementing eEmergency will enhance the high-quality care St. Mary’s emergency physicians and staff already provide by giving them access to highly specialized emergency physicians and nurses to help treat the most critical conditions.

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust was established in 1999 and has announced more than $702 million in grants to charitable organizations thus far.

The eEmergency funding for St. Mary’s comes through the Rural Healthcare Program of The Trust, which has awarded more than $148 million in grants to institutions and organizations in the Midwest.

More than $51.9 million of that total has been awarded in South Dakota, including more than $2.1 million in the Pierre and Gettysburg area.

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