The Arizona Telemedicine Program Blog

The VA Phoenix Medical Center launched a new telehealth physical therapy (PT) clinic as part of Veterans’ post-op care plans after total knee replacements. The innovation empowers Veterans to begin VA outpatient PT at home within a week of surgery, improving Veterans’ experience of care.

“Timely access to physical therapy is so important to get Veterans moving in a healthy pattern because sometimes, after surgery, we’re hesitant to move or we’re nervous,” said Christina Crawford, telehealth coordinator (pictured above). “Also, it can help to prevent tightness (known as contracture) in the knee, therefore improving the mobility of the knee.”

I entered the world of Digital Equity advocacy as an AmeriCorps member, serving at the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona starting in October, 2020.  I am embarrassed to say that I came to this work completely unaware that, according to a recent Brookings Institution report, 15–24% of Americans lack any sort of broadband connection to the Internet.  Thankfully, I soon discovered a large and super-engaged group of organizations, government agencies, individuals and policy aficionados were hard at work addressing the myriad issues that contribute to the Digital Exclusion of too many members of our society.

I’ve been a healthcare executive for more than 15 years in Tucson, and I like to think that I have seen a lot in my tenure. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Nor could anything have prepared me for leading close to 6,000 team members through a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic. Though 15 months later the health crisis still isn’t over, we are in a much better position to reflect on all the work that was done in the past year. Sometimes it seems like it was all a dream, or maybe I am still trying to catch up on lost sleep.

Once the severity of the pandemic was known, we knew we were in this for the long haul. With information changing by the hour, we quickly jumped into action and addressed how we would provide care to our community, who were afraid and confused, as well as provide a safe workplace for our frontline teams who were, and still are the most essential of workers. 

Competencies that should be covered in a teletherapy training for behavioral health professionals

Teletherapy practice requires a consistent application of evidence-based competencies for the best patient outcomes, but many clinicians practice teletherapy without even realizing that they are missing key competencies. As the CEO of the Telehealth Certification Institute, a teletherapy training provider of over 22,000 clinicians, I’ve noticed that students are often surprised with how much their practice competencies develop after they attend a rigorous teletherapy training.

Unfortunately, graduate-level counseling programs rarely feature teletherapy coursework in their curriculums. Clinical instruction for on-site therapy is still the main focus for most educational institutions, despite the rise in evidence that supports telemental health.

Social health helps our physical and mental health too.

When it comes to health and wellness, one’s physical health and abilities are often at the forefront. In fact, it’s only recently that mental health is more often addressed in society, though mental health stigmas are still prevalent.

However, our overall health and wellness has several facts, with physical, social, and mental health each being a part. Intellectual, spiritual, vocational, and dimensional are also dimensions of our wellness. While both physical and mental health are hugely important, social health greatly impacts our health too.

Everyone knows a woman who has effortlessly taken on a myriad of tasks to care of their family, friends, coworkers and loved ones. They may be a mom, daughter, sister, friend, teacher, nurse, community health worker or even yourself. Women are usually the caregiver or leader in making health choices for their families. Women take on all these different roles, sometimes doing three of them at the same time, so how can we support them?

In rural Arizona, many residents struggle with access to services, transportation, and a living wage job. At the same time, health care providers contend with keeping a vibrant skilled workforce to meet the needs in their community. This policy brief from the National Rural Health Association outlines how rural women face several barriers including lack of health insurance, unemployment, high rates of chronic medical conditions, maternal morbidity and mortality, aging issues and intimate partner violence. As a result, there exists many health disparities among women and their families.

Let’s face it. For many people in the USA, the language services industry (translation and interpreting) is an unknown field. Sure, they know about the translators who work at the UN, but beyond that, there isn’t any real comprehension of what translators and interpreters do, let alone what distinguishes a professional in these fields from a “bilingual” or what the difference between a translator and an interpreter is.

But the language services field is a $5 billion-a-year industry in the USA (https://www.ibisworld.com/united-states/market-research-reports/translation-services-industry/).That’s a pretty big paycheck for something that seems like a well-kept secret. And a good portion of that industry is in the medical domain. So, there are many players in the field competing for those dollars. But how do you tell the good ones from the bad? How do you make sure that the language service provider you are working with is professional and will deliver quality services? There are several ways you can ensure that you are getting a quality product.

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