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La Maestra’s Telemedicine Program is a state-of-the-art strategy to address some of the challenges that patients face when accessing specialty care services, such as transportation, eligibility, translation and cultural competency, and greatly improves their compliance rates, allowing the patient to receive specialty care in their “medical home” via telemedicine. A specialist in the network, who is across town or in another country, can be accessed and a treatment plan established, with the patient being part of the solution.
La Maestra’s Medically Trained Cultural Liaisons at each clinic site assist in the telemedicine process, which is resulting in a more culturally-competent, seamless delivery of care overall.
Through our program, mental health providers at La Maestra’s main health center, often with a translator present, have provided consultations for patients at its satellite health centers as well as two rural health clinics since 2005, to ensure that low income residents have access to mental services not available in their local community.
Since 2007, the telemedicine program has also expanded access to Dermatology and Ear, Nose, and Throat specialists, as well as Ophthalmology and Podiatry specialists to improve treatment of La Maestra’s patients with chronic diseases like diabetes.
With grants from Verizon and AT&T Foundations, La Maestra purchased carts, cameras, lenses and scopes to enhance specialty care and to expand the program’s ability to conduct health education, teleconferencing, and teletraining.
In 2010, our Health Education unit, located at the City Heights site, began providing weekly classes for Nutrition, Weight Management and Diabetes Management to patients at our other locations, eliminating the time and cost of transportation for patients and staff.
Grants in 2009 and 2010 from the AT&T Foundation and the County’s Neighborhood Reinvestment Program allowed La Maestra to purchase additional carts, monitors and scopes to improve Telemedicine services at all of our satellites and pay a Telemedicine Coordinator.
In early 2010, Cisco provided a HealthPresence pod with high-definition cameras, scopes, and monitors through its “California Telemedicine Pilot Project” to facilitate expanded telemedicine services.
Also in 2010, the Center for Connected Health Policy launched its Specialty Care Safety Net Initiative (SCSNI), a telehealth demonstration project that connects safety net clinics, including La Maestra, across California with medical specialists at five University of California Schools of Medicine for Dermatology, Endocrinology, Hepatology, Neurology, Orthopedics, and Psychiatry services. La Maestra also partners with Scripps Mercy Hospitalīs Department of Cardiology to include the specialty of Cardiology through Telemedicine.
The future goal is to continue expanding telemedicine to bring more specialty providers and a wider range of specialty care services into the community, including Genetic Counseling, Neurology and Geriatrics to make these specialty services more accessible.