Controlling Seizures, Improving Lives
Yerington woman finally receives the specialty care she needs close to home through telehealth.
Andrea Mullins has suffered from epileptic seizures and debilitating migraines for more than half her life. Since the age of 16 she has struggled to manage these conditions with various prescription medications, but to no avail.
For Mullins, weekly seizures were the norm. Even with her medications, the epilepsy and migraines were out of control. Mullins’ case is a difficult one – she is unable to drive due to her condition, so getting to a specialist in Reno from her home in Yerington is practically impossible.
Desperate for a solution, Mullins consulted with Patty Wise, PA, her primary care provider in Yerington, Nev. Under Wise’s guidance Mullins began treatment with J. Ivan Lopez, MD, FAAN, a neurologist through R-TeleMed, the telehealth program at Renown Health.
“In the past I didn’t have access to a specialist, but now with R-TeleMed I have access to one of the best,” exclaims Mullins. “My neurologist, Dr. Ivan Lopez, quickly addressed issues with my current treatment and recommended an alternative medication that is already working.”
R-TeleMed uses secure video conferencing technology to enable a physician specialist to provide long-distance consultations to a patient and their primary healthcare provider in a rural area. During a telehealth appointment the physician specialist conducts a live, interactive discussion with the patient in the patient’s hometown. Together, the primary care provider and physician specialist collaborate to develop a treatment plan that meets the patient’s needs.
“Telehealth has had a profound effect on the level of care here in our region,” says Kirk Gillis, vice president, Renown Health, who oversees R-TeleMed. “The advanced technology we use with R-TeleMed brings world-class specialty medical care to rural communities throughout northern Nevada and northeastern California.”
A partnership between Nevada Health Centers, Nevada Hospital Association, Nevada Rural Hospital Partners, Renown Health, University of Nevada School of Medicine and independently practicing physician specialists, R-TeleMed offers patients access to more than 30 medical specialties not readily available in most smaller communities. These specialties include neurology, gastroenterology, endocrinology, behavioral health and cardiology services, among others. R-TeleMed is currently available in 14 communities and will eventually provide services in most rural areas of northeastern California and northern Nevada.
Mullins has experienced the benefits of telehealth first hand. At the age of 40, she finally has control over her conditions.
Just two months after her first telehealth appointment with Lopez, the frequency of both her seizures and migraines has decreased. Once homebound, Mullins now enjoys daily walks – something she hasn’t been able to do in years. And Mullins is not the only one to benefit; her whole family has gained from her treatment. “My husband is happy to see my health improve and my puppy is excited to have a playmate again.”
Telehealth also offers advantages for both primary care providers and specialists. “For many physicians telehealth is extremely rewarding – it enables them to provide their patients with the care they need, regardless of their location,” says Lopez.
Mullins is grateful for the care she received and excited for the future. With his expertise in epilepsy and migraine, Lopez is able to help Mullins manage her conditions. “I am excited for appointments now and look forward to working with Dr. Lopez so that I can become a full person again.”