Teresa Brock was diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) in May 2015. As her condition worsened, over the past three years her family has worked hard to make sure she could continue to live in her own home. With her network of family support and assistance from local primary care providers, she has managed to remain in her house with assistance from in-home services provided by Medicaid.
In early 2016, Brock was transported to the local hospital in respiratory distress and diagnosed with pneumonia. She was placed on a ventilator and after many unsuccessful attempts to wean her from the vent, doctors performed a tracheostomy. Brock spent the next several months in a long-term facility in Lousiana recovering from various infections, with no facilities in Arkansas that care for adult ventilator patients, this started the processes over again to get Teresa the medical help she needed in her home state. She returned to her home in August. Since then, Brock has been assisted by in-home services and her three daughters who live nearby. With the lack of specialists in South Arkansas to provide the care Teresa needs in order to remain compliant with her insurance requirements, she would need to be transported to UAMS to be evaluated by her doctors there. Teresa’s Medicare and Medicaid services cover most of her daily supplies and assist with nursing care, but do not cover transportation costs to Little Rock for her to be seen by specialists at UAMS.
In August 2017, Brock’s family reached out to the UAMS Center for Distance Health to see if they could help fulfill her wishes of remaining at home. The UAMS Center for Distance Health Telemed team traveled to El Dorado, and on October 12th, Teresa became the first person in the state seen via Telemedicine for a specialty visit for an ALS patient in Arkansas.
“By Mom not having to be transported 3 hours away to see her Pulmonologist and ENT, telemedicine allows her to remain in the comforts of her own home and avoid the costly transport to UAMS and recovery period that could be quite lengthy. She can still see her specialists and remain compliant with Medicaid.” Since the first exams were completed, Brock’s condition has deteriorated, she has lost most movement in her arms, but she continues to remain positive
“We still get to see that sweet smile of hers, and we know we are doing all we can to keep her as healthy and happy as possible while honoring her wishes of remaining in her own home,” Casey said. “Keeping mom as healthy and comfortable as possible is the most important thing.”
Care Services Coordinator, Cris Mammarelli, and works with the Arkansas ALS Association. Mammarelli says telemedicine can change the way ALS patients are cared for in Arkansas.
“ALS can eventually take away a person’s ability to walk, swallow, move or breathe on their own,” Mammarelli said. “Many people living with ALS in Arkansas live in remote areas or rural towns so traveling becomes a hardship, if not impossible. Telemedicine provides a platform for patients to receive vital care they otherwise would simply do without.”
For more information on ALS, please visit the ALS Association, Arkansas Chapter’s website at http://webar.alsa.org/site/PageServer/?pagename=AR_homepage