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SHEFFIELD, Ala. (WHNT) – A Colbert County woman is making history for medical treatment and technology. Something extraordinary is happening

inside the walls of the Colbert County Health Department.

Ellen McGowen is having a face-to-face visit, even though she is hours away from her doctor.  She’s the first patient to have a comprehensive dialysis check-up using telemedicine.

“This has been the greatest thing to happen to me since I started dialysis. I have been a dialysis patient for five years,” stated McGowen.

She’s required to visit with a doctor once a month.  But Ellen can be treated closer to home through UAB Hospital and Dr. Eric Wallace.

It’s a pilot program with the Alabama Department of Public Health. Their goal is to offer telemedicine for dialysis patients in every county in the state.

McGowen is just glad she can get the treatment she needs in Colbert County, instead of spending hours on the road.

“It was a full day,” McGowen said. “This way it takes 20 minutes to get to the Health Department, 20 minutes to go home and I get the same quality visit that I would get in Birmingham.”

Dr. Wallace believes using this technology can make a tremendous impact on more rural areas of the state.  And with Ellen’s help, he hopes to prove its need.

Telemedicine for dialysis patients is currently not covered by Medicare.