The City of Parma lost its only medical clinic in 2020, and since then, a variety of community leaders and organizations in the city have been looking for healthcare options.
One of them was the Patricia Romanko Public Library, which sits in an old bank building on the corner of East Grove Avenue and South 3rd Street as you drive into the city located in a rural area of Canyon County.
Gina Day, the library director, saw a grant opportunity that would provide funding for libraries to offer telehealth services. She applied to the Idaho Commission for Libraries for the funding, and Parma was one of three cities selected for the grants that were funded by the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health. Challis and Hailey were the other grant recipients.
“Libraries are uniquely positioned to virtually connect underserved and rural communities with health care providers and supportive resources. The generous donations from the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health will enable libraries to fill a core need in their communities,” said State Librarian Stephanie Bailey-White in a news release announcing the grants.
Parma, a city of about 2,000 people, has a bustling library. In April, 234 adults and 168 children visited outside of scheduled activities in the space. The library offers storytime to the preschool and daycare children during the week, as well as hosts other organizations’ events.
Day, who works part time as the library director, proposed to have the telehealth station inside one of three vaults in the old bank. The largest of the vaults, which measures 11 feet by 9 feet and has 8-foot ceilings, sits behind the counter. It’s currently used by the Envisions Stem Lab and includes a green screen that library patrons can use for photos. She has a small desk inside for her administrative duties.
Day’s goal for the facility is to equip it with a computer, large monitor, a dedicated phone line, blood pressure machine, scale, thermometers, and glucose monitors. The grant will allow her to purchase those supplies that will allow residents to access a variety of medical appointments via telehealth. It’s one way to bring healthcare to the city, whose population includes about 20% seniors, many that lack transportation options to see an out-of-city healthcare provider in person.
“We’ve been hearing good things about this from the community and people are really excited,” Day said.
Day already has enlisted help from a retired nurse and fire department staff to support telehealth services. The fire department was another Parma organization that continues to look for ways to help citizens access healthcare.
Jeff Rodgers, the deputy fire chief, will be teaching a class at nearby Treasure Valley Community College that helps citizens become community emergency medical technicians. Community EMTs “are the bridge you have from the hospital and going on home health,” he said. Community EMTs can provide basic services, such as blood pressure checks, changing wound dressings and making sure people have enough food. They also can provide transportation to telehealth appointments.
“We’ve wanted telehealth services in our community for a while, so this is awesome,” Rodgers said. “People don’t need to go to the hospital, but they need an appointment with a doctor. This will really be a benefit for our community.”
Parma, Challis, and Hailey are the latest libraries to be outfitted for telehealth services. The Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health previously funded grants to launch telehealth at libraries in Orofino and Weippe.