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Yvette Cope, Lompoc Valley Medical Center assistant nurse executive, and telemedicine project coordinator and emergency room technician Juan Esquivias wave to a neurologist at another location on a video link during a 2016 demonstration of a telemedicine robot that provides patients with 24/7 access to neurological consults.

Lompoc’s medical facilities incorporate modern technology and traditional bedside manner for rural solutions for today’s medical problems.

“You don’t get to Lompoc unless you meant to come here. Our doctors like the way we can treat patients. We’re smaller, slower. We come face-to-face with our patient in the grocery store, at church. Small practices allow us to make sure our patients get decent care,” said Dr. Cory Gusland of Central Coast Medical Group.

Gusland began his medical career working for public health service in Kernville. School loans paid off and ready to move on, he sought out a home that would serve both his practice and his family.

Lompoc was the answer.

“It was a smaller town, and the hospital was established very much on family practice as the workhorse of the hospital. We had a lot of privileges there you don’t see at bigger hospitals,” he said.

Over his 31 years of service, Gusland has served more than a few families over generations.

“You can be delivering a baby in one part of the hospital while taking care of that baby’s grandfather in another on the same day. You’re taking care of everyone. Relationships to patients are just amazing,” Gusland said.

Today, in partnership with Dr. Claudio Bonometti, Dr. John Sawyer, and Dr. Carl Schlosser, Gusman and Central Coast Medical Group focuses on offering a full-spectrum of primary care services including preventative health care, immunizations, well-child care, well-woman exams, minor surgical procedures and diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic illness. They still provide in-home, bedside visits for patients who can’t make it to the office.

He’s seen change come over Lompoc Valley as well.

“Certainly we’ve seen advances in orthopedics, and anesthesia is much better than it used to be. The new hospital is certainly a lot more state of the art, with a lot of bells and whistles,” Gusland said.

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Among the latest additions to Lompoc Valley Medical Center’s facilities is the cutting-edge teleneurology contract for a “stroke robot.”

Although stroke is the second leading cause of death in Santa Barbara County, the 45,000-resident Lompoc Valley community does not have a full-time neurologist. Patients thought to be having a stroke are often transferred out of town to a larger hospital. LVMC’s telemedicine agreement with Santa Barbara’s Cottage Hospital allows more patients to remain at the hospital and in their own community for recovery.

When emergency medical services call the hospital with a stroke patient, nurses in Lompoc are connected with Cottage Hospital via “Dr. Robot,” the InTouch Health Remote Presence Virtual Independent Telemedicine Assistant.

In addition, Lompoc Valley Medical Center has responded to the growing number of caregivers in the Lompoc Valley by opening its Family Caregiver Support Network Office (lompocvmc.com/locations/family-caregiver-support-network). It offers primary and specialty care physicians, a hematology/oncology facility that treats some 1,100 local patients receiving cancer treatment in town. There’s long-term skilled nursing and post-acute rehabilitation services.

New services include outpatient lactation support services for new mothers, and a weekly breastfeeding mothers' support group.

The medical center continues to recruit new physicians to the community, including relatively recent additions of Dr. James Trettin, Dr. Lee Silman, and Dr. Nancy Mutoro.

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