James J. Peters VA Medical Center
Home Telehealth = Convenience
Home Telehealth Enables Veterans to Receive Care from the Comfort of Their Own Homes: Veterans who live in rural areas or are unable to travel to their VA medical appointments can receive their care using telehealth technology.
Home Telehealth provides daily data monitoring for patients and allows veterans to remotely connect to their health care team, helping to decrease emergent care visits and hospitalizations – all from the comfort of the Veteran’s home.
“Telehealth makes it so Veterans can receive care any time, anywhere. If the patient lives far away, they can talk to their doctor from home,” said Alisa Tribley, VA Telehealth program manager. “We try to keep Veterans out of the hospital. The nurses monitor the patients and learn trends. So, if they maybe see a spike in blood pressure, they can reach out.”
Natalie Ruland, a VA registered nurse, further illustrated how this program helped one Veteran named Martin and can benefit many more. “Our role is to operate as liaisons between the patient at home and the doctor's office,” she said. “We basically oversee their care and their vital signs and try to head off trouble before they have a problem.”
Martin knew this was an opportunity to make a meaningful impact on his health and well-being, and he made the decision to enroll. What he did not know was the impact his decision – and a woman named Jasmine Pace – would make on his life.
“I connected with Jasmine, she was very concerned---I was shocked. I've never had anybody that was that concerned for me before. It felt like talking to my mom,” said Martin of his first experience with Pace, a Telehealth care coordinator. “Jasmine sent me a machine that monitored me and sent my information out, and it finally got to the point where she decided we'd have to send some nurses out to see me. We got my blood pressure down in, like, two weeks. I was shocked.”
Pace called Martin daily to monitor his blood pressure and make sure that he was taking his medications as prescribed. Growing concerned with his blood pressure levels, she decided to send home community nurses to check on Martin at home.
“They went through every single one of his pills and, as soon as he started to take his medicines, his numbers came down immediately,” Pace said.
“Telehealth has been a tremendous help. The nurses were on me like they were my mother. They found things I didn't need, old medications that were expired, a lot of pills I didn't need,” said Martin.
As Martin’s physical, mental, and emotional wellness began to improve, he developed a deep and trusting relationship with Pace, who cared for him despite the two having never met.
“She didn't know me, but the entire time, she treated me like she knew me. She made me feel a lot better about myself. I started to look at myself differently,” said Martin. “Jasmine was like an angel that came from nowhere, how caring she was. It really meant a lot.”
To say that the VA’s Home Telehealth Program has been transformative for Martin would be somewhat of an understatement. Previously unable to travel even an hour away for vital hospital visits, Martin is now planning to pick up his life and move to North Carolina. The confidence and wellness to do so is directly tied to the care and support he receives from his VA Telehealth team.
“As far as I'm concerned, Telehealth saved my life. Telehealth stepped up. I'm very fortunate, and very grateful for them,” he said.