In an Instant – Natural Disasters, Telehealth and Breaking Barriers
By: Laura Goodwin, NP
Some of my TeleHealth patients are upset. They are expecting other residents who have been displaced from Rockport, Texas and other areas severely hit by Hurricane Harvey around the Houston area. At one facility, the residents were moved to different rooms to make room for the evacuees and this has upset some of them greatly. Some residents verbalize fear of evacuees taking away from the care they receive, the food running low due to the increased number of patients and of disease coming in with the evacuees.
TeleHealth Powered by MedOptions gives me the unique ability to see these patients and talk to them and assist them during this difficult time, without any concern for physically being able to get to them which is a serious concern after any natural disaster. I am able to help residents overcome their fears and to assess them for possible temporary medication changes to help with the anxiety related to their fears. And I am sure I will be able to help the evacuees deal with their feelings and anxiety as well as possible PTSD related to the storm.
I have dealt with patients in emergency situations before, from being at a Red Cross shelter as part of their Disaster Assistance Team with Katrina refugees, to seeing patients at a nursing home in Texas who had been evacuated from Katrina, to my own experience of being a CNA at a hospital during Hurricane Andrew where people from Palm Beach Island, Florida were being evacuated and were placed in rooms alongside my terrified regular patients. To be honest, I was terrified, too.
In an instant, the barriers that separate people dissolve during a hurricane or other natural disaster. There are no ethnic, religious or economic differences to divide us. We all help one another. Love overcomes all.
I feel thankful for TeleHealth allowing me to help my patients. Maybe their fears will be alleviated and they will eventually feel at ease. As one of my patients said, “I feel blessed that we are able at this nursing home to help those poor people who have nothing left. I was glad to give up my room so they have a place to stay. It could happen to anybody.”