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My Telehealth: How telehealth is used by local boards of disabilities and special needs

Elizabeth Krauss, Executive Director of the Georgetown Board of Disabilities and Special Needs, visits a community member at the board office.
SCETV/SC Public Radio
Elizabeth Krauss, Executive Director of the Georgetown Board of Disabilities and Special Needs, visits a community member at the board office.

Michaela Moss sits at her kitchen table. It is 10 p.m. at night. Beside her is Erica Kinloch, a healthcare technician for the Board of Disabilities and Special Needs. They talk on the phone with a telehealth facilitator for Station MD a telehealth service that the BDSN uses for their residents. After detailing an accident Michaela had, the facilitator can connect them to an ER doctor. In an entire process that takes 30 minutes, Michaela can connect to a doctor who can treat her through the tablet and peripherals Erica has brought with her.

“They are there when you need them, rather than sitting in a hospital for four hours. With telehealth, you're connected to a doctor within thirty minutes to an hour. It’s very efficient,” said, Erica.

Before telehealth, Michaela and Erica would have had to go to a hospital ER. Being one of the few care facilities open during the night, most people admitted are sent to the ER. This leads to large waiting times as well as increased exposure for patients. The BDSN has combatted this by switching to Telehealth.

“The staff, the direct support staff, we call them DSP’s, absolutely love the service. It’s simple for them to call up a doctor and say, I got this person here who needs your help, and they are able to access it (Telehealth) with ease. And they really like the fact that they don’t have to sit in the ER for 5 hours at a time with someone who is sensory overloaded,” said Elizabeth Krauss, Executive Director of Georgetown BDSN.

For patients like Michaela, this service allows them to get the help they need when they need it. Michaela can speak with a doctor promptly as well as have any medication she might need to be called into her local pharmacy. The Doctor is also able to make a follow-up call to check on the patient they saw. Something that was not possible when Michaela was having to make trips to the ER.

“I think that telehealth in the home has been quite important for them, they don’t like leaving their environment if they can afford it. It’s also disruptive, everyone might have to go with them if there is only one staff on duty. So, it’s less disruptive but they get better quality attention and immediate response, and they get follow-up care,” said Elizabeth.

With a combination of telehealth and telemedicine, the Board of Disabilities and Special Needs has transformed care for Michaela. Allowing her better access to care that is more suitable, and more importantly, more accessible for Michaela.