At the age of 13 months Bryan Bound's daughter, who is  now 13 years old had surgery to repair hip displacia.

"Her hip bone and her joints were not together right," Bounds said. "... So far you could not tell. She looks normal.'

Every two years she and the family have to make a trip from Hutchinson to St. Louis for a checkup. That is, every two years until now.

Bounds ' family was at the Newton Medical Center Surgery Center Feb.22 to help cut the ribbon on a new telemedicine facility that allows patients of Shriner's Hospital in St. Louis see their doctors at Newton Medical Center. NMC is Kansas'  first telehealth location for Shriners Hospitals.

"This means everything," Bounds said. "It is an eight-hour drive (to St. Louis). You see the doctor, and visit is not very long and you come right back home. This saves a lot of time. And with the weather, you had a snow storm hit and big pile-up on the highway. We would have been traveling through there at that time." 

Immediately after the ribbon cutting, the Bounds family was whisked off to an exam room filled with high definition video cameras, telecommunications equipment — and a St. Louis doctor on the other side of a high-speed internet connection.

The new equipment will be located in the hospital’s Newton Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine clinic, which will also provide a reception area for patients and help facilitate appointments.

"It is truly a privilege and an honor for us to participate with the Shriner's organization and the Shriners Hospital for Children to create a network of excellent patient care close to home," said Val Gleason, president and CEO of Newton Medical Center. "Our staff promises to serve the children well."

Shriners Hospitals for Children are known for care in orthopedics, cleft lip and palate, spinal cord injury rehabilitation and in burns and soft tissue conditions. For decades, Shriners from across Kansas have driven vans for families to St. Louis for children to get the medical care they need. 

Norm Conley, potentate of the Midian Shriners of Wichita, has volunteered to drive one of those vans. In about three decades, about 65  Kansas shriners have driven more than 3 million miles to and from St. Louis appointments. They have served more than 400 patients across their area.

It is that, along with the strain on families, that led to the partnership with Newton Medical Center.

"We are excited about the potential of telehealth providing quicker and cost-effective care for Shrine patients. Our Midian officers have worked for years to make remote care a reality," Conley said.

The NMC location allows interaction with Shriners Hospital for Children specialists via high-speed internet and high definition cameras. Additionally, medical information is transmitted electronically via digital stethoscopes, otoscopes, Dermoscopes and general exam hand-held cameras providing great detail for physicians at the Shriners Hospital.

Newton Medical Center hosted a ribbon cutting with National Officers of Shriners Hospitals for Children, NMC representatives, local officials and members of the Shriners who volunteer their time to transport local children to the hospital in St. Louis Feb. 22.