National MS Society, Kern Medical Center set to launch telemedicine
February 13, 2014
Bakersfield – The National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society in partnership with Kern Medical Center (KMC) and UCLA will officially launch a telemedicine program to bring access to MS specialty care to the uninsured and underinsured in Kern County. The final test on equipment was completed Thursday, January 30, and the first MS patient has been scheduled for a consultation with Dr. Barbara Giesser, Clinical Director of UCLA MS Clinical Services, on Thursday, February 13.
Staff and volunteers at the Southern California & Nevada Chapter had been exploring ways to deliver MS specialty care to rural and remote areas through telemedicine. "Dr. Giesser expressed an interest in helping people with MS in Kern County," explained Audra Hindes, who serves as the Chapter’s Senior Director for Clinical Programs, Services, and Advocacy. "And after that, we discovered KMC was already wired for telemedicine. We put two and two together to organize a meeting to discuss further steps."
MS Clinic Days will be scheduled when local neurologists have a patient needing a second opinion on an MS diagnosis or new treatment management plans. Medical histories will be forwarded in advance of the consultations, which will be conducted by Dr. Geisser. Both UCLA and KMC will use telemedicine equipment consisting of videoconferencing units that enable real time, high quality, face-to-face visits. The consults will offer input on diagnosis and/or treatment, and will develop a care plan to manage the course of each person’s disease.
"We are hoping to have 25 to 30 people seen through this project in the first year, and are hoping that people who have this opportunity will be able to confirm their MS diagnosis, better understand their symptoms and need for treatment and other treatment options," said Hindes. "We think this service will also enhance the education and access for the health care professionals in Kern County managing the complexities of multiple sclerosis care."
About the Southern California & Nevada Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society
The Southern California & Nevada Chapter of the National MS Society provides comprehensive programs and advocacy to assist and empower the more than 20,000 individuals residing in Southern and Central California and Nevada who are affected by MS annually. The Southern California & Nevada Chapter is also a driving force of research for the prevention, treatment and cure of MS and contributes funds to support 350 National MS Society research projects worldwide. The Chapter has offices in Bakersfield, Fresno, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Ontario, Reno and Santa Barbara.
About Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis, an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system, interrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.