PLAINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Providing veterans the medical care they need doesn’t always require a face-to-face appointment. Nowadays, some vets are keeping their health care appointments without ever leaving home.
It’s the latest version of telemedicine that vets throughout northeastern and central Pennsylvania are using. Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller got a behind-the-scenes look at how this form of telecommunications technology is benefiting vets.
It was more than a video social call on Tuesday between veteran Gerry Long and a registered dietitian at the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center. He got help with his weight loss goals thanks to an internet connection and a web camera.
“I got down to 221 now. I broke the plateau,” Mr. Long told Emily Richters, MS RDN LDN.
The virtual consultation called VA Video Connect can be done from just about anywhere including from the comfort of Mr. Long’s home.
“It would be great if you can’t… like if you have a car problem or something. You can’t make the appointment. You can call it in if there’s a snowstorm or something,” he said.
VA Video Connect debuted in 2018 at this facility. In recent months, the nutrition and food services department also began utilizing the technology which helps increase access to care for vets.
Ms. Richters said, “They might have a question like a food label question or they might just want to say, you know, I’m doing really well. What else can I do to improve my health and what can you guide me on.”
Besides desktop computers, vets can use VA Video Connect on laptops, smart phones and tablets. It makes consults more flexible and convenient especially if mobility issues were to ever arise for vets like Mr. Long.
“You know, like I don’t have to worry about getting into a bus, getting into a handicapped vehicle. I could just tap in right from my computer at home.”
It also provides a visual component that a routine phone call can’t offer.
“It’s kind of individualizing it, making it personable and seeing them in their environment at home,” said Ms. Richters.
VA Video Connect offers encrypted video appointments which ensure secure, private sessions between the VA and its veteran patients.