A Rural Perspective on COVID-19: The Wayne Community Health Center (Bicknell, Utah)

COVID-19 has overstayed it welcome for most of us. Everyone’s lives, across the nation and world, have changed drastically in the last nine months. While COVID-19 has impacted everyone, everyone’s experiences have been different. This summer, I had the privilege to speak to Carol Lewis about Yavapai county, Arizona’s experience and how rural centers are handing the pandemic. But even rural centers experience the effects of the pandemic differently from each other. To explore different experiences across the southwest, I reached out to The Wayne Community Health Center in the rural town of Bicknell, Utah. Bicknell is one of the 10 communities that make up Wayne County. Wayne county contains about 2,475 square miles (105 miles long and 23 miles wide) in south central Utah, 97% of which is federal and state land. The population of Wayne county is about 2700 and there is only one medical doctor in the county to serve them. Of 2700 people in Wayne county approximately 81% of them have health insurance. The demographic of the population is mostly Caucasian (91%), with the median age and income being 41 years and $45K respectively.

A Novel Way To Utilize Telehealth

I don’t use a smartphone to access Telehealth. Being a “tetraplegic” I have no use of my hands, so I invented a unique way to operate different electronic devices. I created two styles of mouth sticks. This one I use while in bed. It’s made from a quarter inch wooden dowel with both ends covered with surgical tubing. If you notice, one end is covered two and a half inches and the other a half inch. The longer end is for biting on and the other is to cushion the tip. The second mouth stick I use while sitting up in my wheelchair. I can drive up to the desk I designed and park myself in front of my keyboard and computer. The mouth sticks I use while in my chair has a lucite bite impression the dentists made for me. I don’t use this type of mouth stick while laying down in bed because I can’t easily swivel the stick from side to side.

5 Tips for Preparing Your Child for a Telemedicine Visit

The coronavirus pandemic has changed our lives in many ways. Adapting to the “new normal” can be difficult, I know. However, now we have enough technological solutions to continue many of our regular activities. For instance, we’re getting used to working from home and ordering takeout. I stay in touch with my friends and relatives thanks to video calls, and I even purchased weights to work out at home. Is there anything we can’t do from home? For instance, what can you do if you or your child feel sick?

How Was Your First Time?

No – not that first time! How was your very first telemedicine visit? Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic back in March a significant number of people have had their very first telemedicine visit. Surprisingly, even though I’ve been involved in telehealth for over 30 years, I actually fall into that group of “newbies”. I am very fortunate (knock on wood) to be overall quite healthy. My typical medical routine consists on an annual physical, annual mammogram and dental check-ups every 6 months for the most part. Breaking my leg skiing in 2019 – trust me – that surgery could not have been done remotely and the rehab really required all the cool tools and devices my physical therapist had on site.

Telecommuting: US workers are adjusting from office to home

Telecommuting, sometimes referred to as telework or working from home (WFH), got off to a slow start in the U.S. in the 1970s. With a viral pandemic forcing workers to consider the risk of infection from proximity to co-workers, nearly half of US workers have locked their office doors and headed for home. That’s more than twice as many as those telecommuting, at least occasionally, from 2017 through 2018, according to the Brookings Institution, a non-profit public -policy organization based in Washington, D.C.

COVID-19: Opportunities in a Time of Crisis?

There is no doubt that COVID-19 has disrupted our healthcare systems and the general population worldwide in a host of ways no one could have imagined just 6 months ago. On a regular basis, we hear on the news stories about how many cases there are, how many deaths, where to get tested, hot spots, how healthcare disparities contribute to certain populations being more vulnerable than others, and how we need to social distance, wash our hands and wear masks.

Telemedicine Helps Hard-hit Navajo Nation Hospital Deal with the Pandemic

Chinle Service Unit ED using telemedicine tools for poorly visible negative pressure rooms.  Photos courtesy of Stephen Neal
In May, the Navajo Nation surpassed New York and New Jersey for the highest per-capita infection rate of COVID-19 in the US. In an area where 30 to 40 percent of residents don’t have running water and families live together in multigenerational homes, containing the spread has been difficult. In addition, residents can’t stay at home and see a healthcare provider using telemedicine, as so many of us have been able to do during the Public Health Emergency, because there’s little to no cell service or internet availability. So anyone needing healthcare or showing symptoms of COVID-19 has to travel to one of the few healthcare facilities.

Telemedicine: A Whole other Wor(l)d

Starting off as a fellow with the Arizona Telemedicine Program this past June, it got me more and more interested in the specific jargon of telemedicine. At first I often used terms like “telehealth” and “telemedicine” interchangeably but as I got more heavily involved in the literature I realized they are two distinct terms. Telehealth is a more general term encompassing a larger umbrella of services, like hospital administration and training via technology; while telemedicine specifically refers to clinical services provided at a distance.

Why isn’t Telemedicine Mainstream

My introduction to telemedicine was in 8th grade, while I was taking a medical science course with Dr. Weinstein, to prove that the medical school curriculum could be integrated earlier into the American school system. I remember thinking, “Wow, this is one of the coolest applications of technology, why aren’t more people using it?” It wasn’t until my sophomore year at the UofA I reconnected with Dr. Weinstein and started to explore the answer to that question I asked many years ago. As I continued to work with Dr. Weinstein I began to realize the answer to that question was more nuanced than my 8th grade self would have thought. By analyzing the Arizona Telemedicine Council (ATC), which is a non-statutory advisory council to the Arizona Telemedicine Program (ATP), for a paper on the relationship between telemedicine and governance it shed light on the legal, financial, and practical barriers of telemedicine.

Arizona Telemedicine Program Rapidly Responds to Coronavirus Pandemic

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Online Course: “Developing Telemedicine Services” Open Enrollment The national award-winning Arizona Telemedicine Program (ATP), headquartered at the University of Arizona Health Sciences in Tucson, Arizona, will conduct a major, online training program regarding the COVID-19 pandemic for health-care providers, administrators, and educators, titled: “Developing Telemedicine Services,” on Monday, March 23, 2020. “Telemedicine is a key capability for healthcare providers and the community they serve to slow the spread of the COVID-19,” notes Ronald S. Weinstein, MD, a pioneer in telemedicine and founding director of the Arizona Telemedicine Program. The ATP has been producing in-person telemedicine and telehealth training programs for the past 20 years. Thousands of individuals, from hundreds of healthcare organizations, have attended these programs and given them high marks. “Now, in response to the COVID-19 pardemic, we are taking the course online for the first time.” He added, “Obviously, this will open the session to a far larger audience, filling an urgent need at this time.”