In 2005, the
U.S. witnessed hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes,
among many other natural disasters. In Mother
Nature’s furor, more than two million lives were
destroyed, forcing many to recognize the limitations of
emergency and medical care services – especially in
American history, no amount of advanced warning has been
able to prevent natural disasters from destroying rural
areas. The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 left
700,000 people homeless throughout rural areas in
Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and
Tennessee. And, even after the development of
telecommunications and transportation networks over
seven decades later, Hurricane Katrina battered many of
those same communities, leaving 1.5 million people
without homes or prompt medical care.
Hurricane Katrina, more than 1,200 senior citizens
living in rural areas died because of a lack of medical
attention. They included many elderly, disabled
and medically-challenged residents who fled or wanted to
flee, but faced the challenges of finding medical care
as their local response teams struggled to respond to
such a daunting crisis.
individuals, often poor and jobless, rarely hit the
radar of the public consciousness. Only through
devastation does the American public take notice and
demand their leaders do something to help these
disabled and sick individuals living in rural areas
struggle, even without the wake of a natural disaster.
Without doctors or nurses nearby, it is difficult for
rural residents to access emergency responders or even
caregivers who can monitor them for easily
preventable diseases, major health conditions or
The solution to
serve these communities is telemedicine — technologies
that provide long distance home health care that is
priceless to many pregnant women, terminally ill people
and others with disabilities who require remote home
monitoring to safeguard their health.
years, there have been a number of advances that have
pulled technology into the home health care arena,
making the possibilities for improvement endless.
The most remarkable of which is telemedicine — an
affordable, in-home health monitoring system already
popular in Scandinavian countries.
though telemedicine: You wake up, roll out of bed and
stand on a floor mat that automatically takes your
weight. You then walk to the bathroom to wash your face.
With the touch of a faucet, your temperature is
doctors and nurses on the other side of the country are
receiving your vital statistics to monitor your health.
While you may live in a rural community, some 50 miles
from the nearest hospital, doctors can use telemedicine
for emergency alerts, medication reminders, long-term
disease management, and monitoring such conditions as
diabetes, cardio-pulmonary condition, asthma and
simple, reliable and effective in-home systems for a
lifetime of health tracking and monitoring is priceless.
It enables professional medical specialists, such as
primary care physicians, to direct treatment and
referrals in a precise manner — even if they are located
on the other side of the world.
In 2006, these
technological innovations will aid a growing number of
individuals who cannot receive medical help regularly or
find transportation during emergencies. Many
individuals stranded in their homes during natural
disasters or living in rural areas will be able to use
the Internet and high-tech monitoring systems for
immediate medical care and monitoring.
supports more than one-way communication of medical
information. Through two-way voice communication,
individuals in need can signal and speak with
experienced licensed nurses, emergency medical
technicians and police, fire and emergency dispatchers
through an intercom, bracelet or pendant. Emergency and
medical questions are answered fast; the right course of
action is diagnosed within seconds.
services mean everything to those in need, their
families and professionals who provide home healthcare.
Knowing loved ones have the most up-to-date technology,
such as convenient health monitoring, medical record
archiving, Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking
capabilities, inactivity detectors and medication
alerts, along with 24-hour access to psychologists,
counselors, licensed nurses, EMTs and police, fire and
emergency officials brings an invaluable sense of peace
of mind to subscribers.
personal touch is and will always remain the cornerstone
of proper home health care, the security and home health
care industries have created “compassionate technology,”
which can better link people together in times of
In the coming
months, watch for the union of telemedicine and two-way
voice communication to become the “21st Century House
Call,” revolutionizing home health care, alleviating the
devastating effects following natural disasters and
bringing a touch of soul to our technological world.
Peter P. Giacalone is executive
vice president of SafetyCare™. For more information
about SafetyCare™, please log on to www.safetycare.us.
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