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.
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.
I’m not ready to jump on a plane anytime soon to get away from staying at home during COVID, but I am willing to jump in my car and take a road trip to do some hiking in National Parks on less popular trails and have done just that in the past couple of months. One was to Great Smokey Mountain National Park and the other to Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway.
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?
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.
Southwest Telehealth Resource Center • University of Arizona Health Sciences • P.O. Box 245105 • Tucson, AZ 85724-5105
This website was made possible by grant number G22RH30360 from the Office for the Advancement of Telehealth, Health Resources and Services Administration, DHHS