For rural communities, telemedicine can offer a lifeline to around-the-clock and pediatric care.Shortly after a 25-year-old man with flu-like symptoms and difficulty breathing arrived at Union Hospital a small, rural facility in Cecil County, Md. two physicians scanned his vital signs and noticed a low oxygen intake. They also saw blood coming out of his lungs.But the doctors werent in the same room with him, or even in the same hospital. In fact, they were huddled in front of eight monitors and several computers 60 miles away at the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS).It was easy to tell the patient was in deep trouble, says Dr. Marc Zubrow, vice president of telemedicine at UMMS, who was on duty as part of a telemedicine program and quickly ordered a helicopter to transport the patient to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC).There, doctors put the patient on an artificial lung machine to help him breathe and gave him antibiotics to fend off a bacterial infection. The man is alive today thanks in large part to the telemedicine program, which was created to address a national shortage of critical care physicians.

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