Patients

Patient meeting with doctor via telemedicine

I was vacationing in a tiny, remote mountain town on the east coast last summer when I became ill. It was a Sunday evening and the local urgent care center didn’t open until the next morning. I didn’t want to wait 15 hours for urgent care, and I didn’t want to be driven to the regional ER, where I might have to wait a long time to be seen—and might be exposed to something contagious while in the waiting room.

Luckily, I had recently heard about one of the companies that provides urgent care visits via telemedicine. So I took out my iPad, loaded the app, and called in.

Phyllis Webster, Telemedicine Case Coordinator for ATP

Graduate school or full-time job?

That was the question Phyllis Webster was pondering after getting her bachelor’s degree in cultural and biological anthropology from the University of Arizona. In late 1996, she opted for full-time job, as a research specialist with the newly formed Arizona Telemedicine Program (ATP).

Patients in waiting room

Greg Hales used to really dislike going to the doctor.

“I didn’t dislike the doctor,” he says. “I just really disliked having to listen to whatever terrible news or reality show was blaring from the TV in the waiting room. It was so unpleasant. Then one day I thought, ‘Why don’t I just do something about this?’ That was when I set about creating a series of waiting room video loops, which play in North Country waiting rooms across the system."

Mariposa Community Health Center telemedicine

Mariposa Community Health Center got its start in 1980 as a small clinic in Nogales, Arizona. It has grown over the years to be the largest provider of medical, dental and community-based health promotion and disease prevention services on the Arizona-Mexico border. 

And in 1996, the clinic expanded its reach by becoming the first clinical site to link to the Arizona Telemedicine Program.

The decision was not a no-brainer. For many Nogales families, going to see a doctor in Tucson, 60 miles away, was a fun family outing, with lunch and shopping on the side. But for many others, the transportation logistics were next to impossible. For them, telemedicine would be a godsend.

But there were concerns about how well it would work.

telestroke computer

Jack Porter isn’t one to admit he had a stroke three years ago.

“I didn’t have a stroke,” he will tell you. “I had a stroke of luck.”

Porter, who has lived in Bisbee since he was two weeks old, was unable to talk or move his left leg or left arm when he arrived at Copper Queen Community Hospital’s emergency room. Daniel Roe, MD, chief medical officer and director of emergency services and telemedicine at Copper Queen, ordered a CT scan that showed a clot forming on the right side of Porter’s brain.

But there was no neurologist at the hospital to advise what to do next. And that’s what led to Porter’s “stroke of luck.”

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