The West Central Tribune reports…
Once upon a time, DuWayne Underthun and his wife, Betty, would have been making many snowy trips from their rural Willmar home to the CentraCare Heart and Vascular Center in St. Cloud for his congestive heart failure.
Instead, he now receives most of his care much closer to home through a newly launched heart failure telemedicine program at Rice Memorial Hospital.
An appointment last week, the day after a snowstorm pummeled the region and brought most travel to a standstill, reinforced the value to the Underthuns of local access to quality care.
“We would not have been able to make it to St. Cloud because of the weather,” said DuWayne Underthun, 78. “This is much more convenient.”
How does it work?
The telemedicine visits with clinical specialists at CentraCare Heart and Vascular Center bring a layer of advanced care that wouldn’t otherwise be locally available.
A patient in Willmar and a clinician in St. Cloud can see and speak to each other via the two-way connection. From St. Cloud, a mini-camera can be manipulated to get a close-up look at the patient’s ankles to check for swelling. Heart and lung sounds through a stethoscope in Willmar are transmitted to St. Cloud where the clinician can hear them through headphones.
Three months after his diagnosis, Underthun is doing well. He quickly grew comfortable being on camera, and he and Betty appreciate the access to skilled clinicians both in their hometown and in St. Cloud.
“They know what they’re doing. I’m thankful for that,” he said.
Willmar is the first satellite to offer the service. It’s hoped that more sites will be added to broaden the outreach that CentraCare Heart and Vascular Center can provide.