Providing Veterans with quality, compassionate care that they have earned and deserve is the foremost mission of Tomah VA Medical Center and its outpatient clinics. And one of the ways Tomah VAMC is providing exceptional care to Veterans is through a telehealth screening called teleretinal imaging.

Teleretinal imaging uses a special camera to take images of the lining inside the eye. The medical staff sends the images to optometry providers to read and assess. Telehealth services, such as teleretinal imaging, have become even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Katrin Metcalf (right) Tomah VAMC’s Facility Telehealth Coordinator and Cynthia Lang Telehealth Clinical Technician, SFT Preceptor, CVT Preceptor.

“Providing safe care to our Veterans in locations convenient to them leads to regular use of technology and telehealth services,” said Karen Long. Long is the Tomah VAMC acting director. “We are proudly leveraging our virtual care tools to ensure our patients and staff are as safe as possible.”

The photo at top shows Deb Rock (right), nurse manager for La Crosse Outpatient Clinics, and Cynthia Lang (left), telehealth clinical technician, SFT preceptor and CVT preceptor.

Teleretinal is expanding nationally

Cynthia Lang has been certified to complete teleretinal imaging since 2013. She is a telehealth technician at Tomah VAMC’s La Crosse outpatient clinic.

“While most often used for Veterans with diabetes and elevated A1c, teleretinal imaging is expanding nationally to assist in screening for conditions such as glaucoma and macular degeneration.”

Recently, a Veteran told Lang he had been experiencing a decrease in vision in his right eye for 10 days. Based on the Veteran’s history and reported change in vision, Lang knew getting good images would be very important. She was able to identify a potential issue.

The images revealed a partially detached retina that required immediate interventions to prevent vision loss. Through a collaborative team effort with the Veteran’s Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT) and optometrist Anjela Krome, the Veteran was able to be seen quickly by a community provider the same day and receive the care he needed.

Lang credited the team effort for the ability to address the Veteran’s needs as quickly as possible.

Positively impacted Veteran’s quality of life

“It is really a team effort with the Veteran to ensure images captured are of high quality for the reader,” said Lang. “It isn’t my job to diagnose patients but, through my training, I realized that these images needed to be reviewed quickly. In my VA career, I have learned to stay calm and take care of the Veteran and that is what I did.”

Long said she is proud of the team. “We strive to do the right thing for Veterans every day. And to provide them with exceptional quality and service,” said Long. “This team’s actions may have positively impacted this Veteran’s quality of life. That’s something they should all be very proud of.”

Jessica Hennessey is the acting public affairs officer for the Tomah VA Medical Center.

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Published on Sep. 9, 2020

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