TMC Mega Raffle funds support telemedicine

An elephant standing on your chest – that’s what patients say it feels like living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD. Imagine waiting several months and traveling long distances to see a specialist – with an elephant standing on your chest?

That’s why TMC Mega Raffle funds are supporting a crucial telemedicine program that will provide expert pulmonary care to families in rural communities – without exhaustive travel and without waiting for months or weeks.

Rural families at greater risk

According to a study by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, individuals who live in rural, farming communities are more likely to acquire COPD. That’s because agricultural workers are exposed to many air pollutants that cause disease and inflammatory reactions – herbicides, pesticides, blowing dust and other airborne contaminants.

This exposure also can cause severe, chronic pulmonary health problems other than COPD that are just as challenging to treat and require frequent visits with a pulmonologist.

Limited access

“Access to specialist care services is one of the greatest challenges for individuals and families living in rural areas,” says Michael Duran, TMC vice president and chief development officer.

Families in Willcox, Safford, Clifton and Douglas must travel to Sierra Vista or Tucson to see a pulmonologist. This scarcity can leave rural patients waiting months for treatment.

Virtual visits offer real care

TMC has collaborated with the Northern Cochise Community Hospital in Willcox to offer pulmonary telemedicine services for residents with COPD, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, undiagnosed lung nodules and sleep apnea.

Mega Raffle funds provide the advanced equipment for a respiratory tech to examine patients in-person, as well as the camera, software and technology to provide a face-to-face virtual visit with a pulmonary specialist.

Face-to-face

“It’s like you’re right there with the specialist,” Duran says. “Even though they are a great distance away, the physician interacts with patients face-to-face, asking questions, discussing and treating.”

Services will be provided in a clinic housed at NCCH, significantly reducing travel for some patients and eliminating travel for many. The service will be staffed by Pulmonary Associates of Southern Arizona.

“PASA are great partners – the trusted providers are making time in their busy schedules to expedite quality care for patients in Cochise County,” Duran said.

Across the region

The Mega Raffle helps Tucson Medical Center address important health needs in Southern Arizona, and makes it possible to implement creative solutions to complex situations.

“TMC is grateful for every Mega Raffle ticket sold,” Duran said. “The proceeds make it possible to bring exceptional health care with compassion to communities across the region.”