6 Students, 2 Professors, and COVID: An Unforgettable Service-Learning Immersion

(Left: Brook, Jimis, Lindsey, Stephanie, Anne, Sami, Dr. Godfrey, Dr. Kiser)

Why am I ALWAYS crying? I swear right when I think to myself… “I got this, I GOT THIS”. Tears, puddles, Niagara Falls… pouring out. Every time I’m asked to share my experience. Why cry? Because of all the LOVE I have as a healthcare provider and the genuine connections I made during our crisis immersion in collaboration with the Gallup Indian Medical Center (GIMC), Gallup, NM.

Making Telemedicine Feasible for Everyone – Especially Those With Physical Challenges


Telemedicine has for years been touted as providing access to healthcare for everyone, anywhere, anytime and it has been quite successful in doing so in many respects but disparities still exist among a number of patient populations. In particular, those who traditionally have challenges accessing healthcare due to physical challenges often experience similar or even greater challenges with telemedicine. Think about for a minute. Telemedicine is predominantly provided using audio and/or video-based telecommunications technologies. This fundamental fact of how telemedicine visits occur can actually exacerbate digital disparities.

Caregivers – Take Care with Telehealth!


“Take care with telehealth” – it’s an urging not a warning. Unless you have been a caregiver of a loved one, you may not appreciate the potential mental, physical, quality of life and financial impacts. My sister bore the burden of caring for our mother when Alzheimer dementia stole her sharp mind. On the rare occasions when my mother stayed with me for weeks at a time, I was overcome with anxiety, feeling like there were tight bands around my chest, and my normally low blood pressure shot up. This tracks with evidence that female caregivers experience more psychological distress than males (Families Caring for an Aging America. 2016).

How Can Telewellness Support My Health?

Telewellness uses technology to support our overall health and wellness.

Over the past year, many individuals have been staying home to help support public safety measures and reduce the impact of COVID-19 on our communities. This was challenging, but current technological advances have allowed most of us to continue to stay healthy.

Part of this technology is telemedicine, which is also referred to as telehealth, telecare, telewellness, and more.

PREGNANT? Oh so busy with work, kids? Avoid the travel and engage your partner and other children!


Can you imagine the opportunity to receive some of your prenatal care without leaving your home? The stress of pregnancy is certainly exacerbated by the eight to fourteen recommended prenatal visits, particularly if the woman has full-time work, lives far from the clinician, has other children at home, or lives in a part of the country with weather or other factors than makes it difficult to drive safely.

Published data show that these visits are safe, with the same outcomes as women who had traditional prenatal care visits. Patient satisfaction is high, particularly among women for which the pregnancy is not her first.

Teledentistry – Lights. Camera. Open Wide.

Well… not quite; but it may not be what you think. I’m not here to make the case about the importance of good oral health, the impacts of poor oral health on overall health and chronic disease, the potential to lower health care costs and our countless opportunities to integrate oral health into health care services. Rather I ask that you join me to learn just a bit more about what teledentistry is and how it can be used to expand access, provide education and elevate team-based care.

Can we provide care across state lines?

Snow birds. Not the kind that fly (certainly not now with COVID) but the human kind. For those of you who never heard the term before, snow birds are typically retirees who travel south in the winter to states like Arizona, New Mexico and Florida to get away from the snow and cold up north than go back up north in the summer when the heat hits the south. What does this have to do with telemedicine? A lot actually and not just with snow birds. We are a mobile population. People don’t stay in one place their entire lives anymore – we move around, we travel but when we move from one place to another we don’t get to leave our health conditions behind us. They stay with us and sometimes we just get sick when we travel. Being creatures of habit, however, most people like to have consistency in their health providers. We like to think that our PCP and specialists that we see know us and our problems, that we have a relationship. Back to the snow birds – if my cardiologist lives in Chicago and I see her during the summer I want to see her during the winter as well when I’m relaxing by the pool in Tucson staying warm. Problem is she’s back in Chicago shoveling snow so how can I see her? Telemedicine of course but it’s not that easy.

Opportunity Knocking — Empanelment, COVID-19 and Telehealth

Empanelment. Do you know what it is? Probably not if you’re not “in” primary care. You may know the patient side of empanelment, though. If you have a primary care provider (PCP), it usually means you have been empaneled to that provider. Empanelment is a foundational component of primary care and is essential in population health management. In 2019, the People-Centered Integrated Care collaborative, participants from 10 countries developed an overview of empanelment and a comprehensive definition:

Telehealth Does Not Equal Video Visit!

I spend many hours every week in meetings regarding telehealth. I lead one on proving the value of telehealth. I participate in others focused on mental health, pediatrics, ocular care, the business of telehealth, the associated technology, etc. etc. etc. Over time I’ve realized that, in most cases, the focus is totally on video visits. Having spent many years leading virtual care for Kaiser Permanente in Colorado, in my humble opinion, telehealth encompasses MUCH MORE than video visits. My definition of telehealth is any care process that does not have the clinician and the patient in the same room at the same time. This includes care provided via secure text, e-mail, telephone, video, remote patient monitoring, social media, mobile apps, even sources of information for self-care.