Nursing association thinks remotely

VNA hopes long-distance health monitoring will reduce hospital bills

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— The Visiting Nurse Assoc--iation announced Monday that it has received $75,000 in grants for remote health monitoring equipment.

"We think, with the long distances and climate challenges, that these devices are really going to aid us with state-of-the-art care for our patients," said Susan Birch, executive director of the VNA.

The VNA is the public health service for the region and plans to use part of the money for two health kiosks -- one in Routt County and one in Moffat County.

The kiosks will allow the public to measure health risks, discover a healthier lifestyle and monitor changes in health status. Users will be issued ATM-like cards that will allow the kiosks to track a user's health history. It will take about three minutes to measure and evaluate vital signs at the kiosks.

"We are just trying to be on the leading edge of these applications on a rural frontier," Birch said.

The VNA will purchase remote portable health devices that can be kept at a patient's home. Similar to the kiosks, the devices will take health measurements such as heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen saturation, weight and temperature. Those measurements then can be transmitted through phone lines to the VNA so a nurse can monitor conditions remotely.

"This is a really exciting step for our region," Birch said. "It is a whole new way to provide home-based care, as well as preventative care."

The health kiosks and at-home health monitoring devices are meant to provide convenience and cut back on health care costs, Birch said.

Birch said the VNA is seeking funding sources to purchase more automated equipment. She said the group also is focused on raising funds to help create a system for electronic, paperless medical records. The VNA wants to raise another $100,000 to help build the system, Birch said.

The Department of Local Affairs awarded a $50,000 grant. In a previous award, The Daniels Fund also contributed $25,000 to the project.

-- To reach Matt Stensland, call 871-4210

or e-mail mstensland@steamboatpilot.com.

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