Telehealth Keeps California Veterans Safe During Wildfires

Man sitting on a couch while being using his phone.

While first responders fight the California wildfires, VA is making sure California Veterans remain safe and have access to the high-quality health care they need. VA’s Remote Patient Monitoring – Home Telehealth (RPM – HT) program has emergency procedures in place to connect Veterans with VA providers in a crisis.

“Within hours of wildfires threatening the homes and lives of residents in central and Northern California, our team implemented emergency plans to care for Veterans enrolled in RPM – HT,” said Sandy Murphy. Murphy is VA’s Office of Connected Care program manager for the Sierra Pacific Network, also known as VISN 21. VISN 21 includes VA facilities in central and Northern California, Nevada, and the Pacific Islands.

According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, 2020 has been the worst year on record for the Golden State. To date, wildfires have scorched nearly 4 million acres — larger than the state of Connecticut. 

Veterans enrolled in RPM-HT include vulnerable patients who require daily health monitoring. The program enables these Veterans to send important health data from the comfort of their home using a computer, mobile device, or VA-issued medical equipment. The received data is then interpreted and evaluated by trained clinical staff.

Murphy’s team worked to issue an emergency alert through RPM-HT devices to 3,334 Veterans across the affected areas. The alert informed Veterans of the wildfires, encouraged them to follow any evacuation orders and smoke precautions, and advised them to abide by coronavirus physical distancing guidelines. The team followed up by calling each Veteran.

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