Patients and providers pivoted to online appointments during pandemic lockdowns. Some in Western North Carolina want the option to extend permanently.
“Human beings just aren’t designed to be isolated in perpetuity,” says Rhonda Cox, executive vice president and chief population health officer at Vaya Health. But that’s exactly what many have had to endure over the past 10 months, and the strain is showing up in the region’s mental health system.
Telehealth was already on the rise pre-pandemic, but COVID-19 has made it the new normal. Patients are ditching crowded waiting rooms en masse, opting to talk to providers from the privacy of their home.
The pandemic has isolated rural residents with mental health needs. But these North Carolina providers are finding creative ways to connect.
Staffers at Mission Hospital have recently been feeling the love from all corners of the community, with restaurants delivering meals around the clock, schools and businesses manufacturing personal protective equipment for medical workers and local residents stepping forward to donate masks and other supplies.
“Often we can reach folks better through technology than we can face to face,” says Shane Lunsford of the Center for Psychiatry and Mental Wellness. As telehealth service offerings and technological capabilities expand, providers around the region are excited about the possibilities of new models of seeing patients and providing care.
The mountains are calling, using a technology that still is deciding on what to call itself — whether telemedicine or telehealth. “Some say there’s no difference” between one term and the other, says Dr. Steve North, clinical director for Mission Virtual Care. But no matter what you call it, North and many other health care professionals in […]