Bringing health care closer to home

Living in rural communities often means traveling for specialized medical care, resulting in transportation costs, missed work and many hours away from family.

TMC HealthCare is dedicated to making sure patients have more convenient access to care by bringing it to them via telemedicine.

‘When you go to Tucson for an appointment it takes up the whole day’

The TMC Bariatric Center works with patients from across Southern Arizona to achieve their weight-loss goals. It is an involved process that requires around 17 visits to the doctor’s office over the course of a year as well as surgery and recovery time – not an easy feat for a patient living in a rural area.

“I live in Benson, so I’m used to going to Tucson for specialist appointments,” said Cindy Batten, TMC bariatric patient. “but it’s hard for me with my job. I work Monday through Friday, and honestly, by the time you drive to Tucson, allow for traffic, have your appointment and get back, your whole day is blown.”

Specialized care without the commute

Batten has begun treatments with Tucson-based Dr. Matthew Weiner, medical director of Tucson Medical Center’s bariatric services and telemedicine. Fortunately, she is able to do this without the commute to Tucson.

“We have installed tele-stations in primary care offices and hospitals in rural areas,” Dr. Weiner said. “This allows physicians to beam into wherever these stations are located. There is no need for patients to travel when 80-90% of the time, the appointment can be done remotely.”

Filling communication gaps

Telehealth services also allow patients to have joint visits with their specialty and primary care providers.

“The three of us can talk together so the PCP can fill me in on the patient’s medical history or we can, for example, set up an appointment to have sutures removed right there. It helps fill any communication gaps there may be between specialty and primary care.”

‘It’s just like having him right there’

Batten is able to get to her telehealth appointment in about three minutes, see Dr. Weiner on a screen, and then get back to work all during her lunch break.

“It’s good,” she said. “It’s just like having him right there, and I don’t have to use my sick time. I really enjoy not having to take days off. This program requires so many visits. I don’t think I’d have enough PTO to go to my appointments, have the surgery and then take the needed time to recover.”

You can help rural patients

By purchasing a TMC Mega Raffle ticket, you can help bring health care closer to home for patients throughout Southern Arizona. These funds help purchase the advanced technology needed for telemedicine. This equipment is also utilized for nutrition consultations, patient and family hospital visits, speech therapy and more.