Telehealth comes To Pickens County
PICKENS COUNTY, Ala. (WBRC) - Telehealth for Veterans has come to Pickens County and that seems to fit the national trend. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the number of medical visits done by telehealth exploded from 840,000 in 2019 to more than 52,000,000 in 2020. The pandemic fueled much of that growth.
This is a partnership between the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center and the Alabama Department of Public Health. The service itself was actually installed in late 2021 but medical officials wanted to work out the kinks before announcing it in Carrolton.
Korean War Veteran James Isbell was more than pleased to learn he won’t have to travel far to see a doctor. Isbell can now drive to the Pickens County Health Department and see the physician on telehealth in a private room.
“I think anything for the Veterans is great because they put their lives on the line,” said Isbell.
High tech yet simple, according to Dr. David Macvicar.
“The Alabama Department of Public Health staff will take you in and kind of get you situated, get all the equipment set up and bridge to us and the Veteran is sitting in a seat in front of a screen and interact with the provider,” said Dr. Macvicar, a psychologist at the Tuscaloosa VA.
So far, six veterans have taken advantage of telehealth in Pickens County but that number is expected to grow significantly in the coming years. The service for now only focuses on mental health.
Dr. Rebecca Meyer says she anticipates telehealth to become a major convenience for Veterans beyond Pickens County.
“In the surrounding counties when you total it all up it’s over a thousand,” said Dr. Rebecca Meyer of the Tuscaloosa VA.
Dr. Macvicar acknowledges some could perceive a downside to telehealth; no personal touch with the doctor, but Macvicar encourages Veterans to just try it once.
“In my experience if you give it one try, you realize this is pretty good, you feel connected to this person,” said Macvicar.
The VA and the Department of Public Health called their joint effort Mission Possible. It’s turned out to be mission accomplished.
Dr. Rebecca Meyer says even though for now the telehealth is only for mental health, it could very well expand to include medical health services as well.
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