Some exciting news about medical care in our area.

St. Luke's has announced it is opening the region's first "virtual hospital" this week -- that means no hospital beds or operating rooms.

St. Luke's Virtual Care Center is designed to provide people in remote, under-served communities with access to Idaho's top specialty and emergency providers without actually having to make a trip to Boise.

The hospital is located inside Boise's former Washington Group Plaza and will be operated by a medical team of up to 350 people.

The team will use the latest telemedicine equipment such as two-way cameras and remote monitoring equipment to diagnose and treat patients hundreds of miles away.

"The reality of health care today is that we don't have enough physicians to provide every specialty service to every community, particularly in a state like Idaho with our rural communities,” said Dr. Eric Rich, St. Luke’s Telehealth Medical Director. “So we aim to provide those physicians and patients in those rural communities with access to those specialists that might be here in Boise."

The program focuses on three key areas: clinic consultation, hospital consultation and home monitoring.