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Ruby Patton, better known as Miss Ruby to everyone in her Mississippi Delta community, began showing the symptoms that often come with aging.
After a while, those moments of forgetfulness and confusion increased to a point that Miss Ruby's children started wondering if there was something else causing their mother to forget if she had started the washing machine - while the appliance was in the middle of its cycle.
Vivian Patton, her brother, Hezekiah, and their mother, Miss Ruby
Miss Ruby's daughter, Vivian Patton, wanted her mother to see a specialist about the potential of Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia. Yet the nearly three-hour drive to see a specialist at the MIND Center at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson from tiny Mound Bayou was a main hindrance.
Nearby, just five or six miles down the road, the Taborian Urgent Care Clinic offered a solution.
The clinic - once one of the most esteemed all-African-American hospitals in the nation - had an agreement with UMMC's Center for Telehealth to provide a service called TeleMIND, an offering that allows patients like Miss Ruby to see a MIND Center specialist at UMMC's Jackson campus via a live streaming video.
"The Center for Telehealth offers an 'end to end' or turnkey telehealth solution," said Dr. Kristi Henderson, chief telehealth and innovation officer at UMMC. "We make it easy for any health-care entity in the state to select from a menu of telehealth services then we take it from there."
The provision of TeleMIND at the Mound Bayou location is the first service offered at a clinic not associated with UMMC. The other two clinics offering this service via the Center for Telehealth are at UMMC-owned hospitals in Lexington and Grenada.
"We provide the equipment, education and workflow design," explained Henderson of how the outreach works. "The idea of telehealth seems overwhelming which is why partnering with a trusted partner with over a decade of experience is so important. We make it simple."
Simple was what Vivian Patton said about the consultation earlier in April when she, her mother, and brother, Hezekiah Patton, sat in a room at the clinic in Mound Bayou. In front of the Patton family was a telehealth kiosk, complete with a monitor, computer, medical equipment and the face of Dr. Gwen Windham, director of the MIND Center Clinic.
From her desk 130 miles away, Windham was able to begin the initial consultations with Miss Ruby and her family members.
The questions asked were the same that would have been posed if Miss Ruby was in a consultation room in Jackson.
The examinations of movements and speech were the same ones that would have been had the Patton family made the trek to the state capital.
This is the view Miss Ruby and her family sees while consulting with Dr. Gwen Windham in Jackson, more than 130 miles away.
"But instead we did (the tests) right there at Taborian," said Vivian Patton. "It's a facility that (Miss Ruby) was familiar with. She's had children there. She knows those surroundings."
Vivian Patton said her mother was very receptive to the telehealth delivery.
"And it made us feel better to talk about it with Dr. Windham," said Vivian Patton. "She was able to observe her behavior and characteristics that day, the ones that had concerned us."
Windham said doing everything possible to alleviate the burden of extensive travel on the patients, their families and caregivers is one of the key points of TeleMIND.
"It is a great feeling to be able to serve the residents of Mississippi using this technology. It's the next best thing to being with them in person," she said.
"With trained support staff in the field and this advanced technology, I think we can offer comparable services to in-person visits that would be taxing to many patients and their families or caregivers due to the distance they must travel. It is also very difficult for many older patients and patients with dementia to make the trip."
Vivian Patton said her mother will go to more appointments using the telehealth options at the nearby urgent care clinic.
"This has been a great experience," she said. "And it's beneficial for the whole community."
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<inthenews><title>UMMC Honors Anatomical Donors</title><url>http://www.newsms.fm/ummc-honors-anatomical-donors/</url><date>4/29/2015</date><agency>NewsMS Radio</agency></inthenews>
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