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  • Deloris Symalla

Deloris Symalla

Telehealth services brings care to rural patients

Deloris Symalla“It’s a blessing every day when you can get up and move.” That’s the motto of Deloris Symalla, an 80-year-old retired teacher who suffered a stroke on Sept. 8, 2016, followed by a fall in late November. Deloris is one of nearly 80 people who have used telestroke services now available in rural Central Minnesota through CentraCare Health – Long Prairie.

Deloris knew the moment she woke up that something wasn’t right. Her left arm was tingling, her left leg was numb and she couldn’t bite her breakfast toast. One look at her twisted mouth in the mirror told Deloris she was likely having a stroke. “When I leave here now, I won’t be coming back,” she thought to herself.

She was taken to the Long Prairie hospital where a CentraCare Health stroke provider in St. Cloud diagnosed her with a stroke via a telehealth monitor. She was then transferred to St. Cloud Hospital for a 14-day stay and received extensive inpatient rehabilitation.

Through a lot of hard work in physical, occupational and speech therapies, Deloris is now back in her home.

She also received patient navigator services provided by Sarah Zastrow, RN. CentraCare Health – Long Prairie was awarded a $540,000 three-year grant from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Rural Health Care Services Outreach Grant Program to make those services possible.

Implemented in late 2015, the program improves access to care and health outcomes among patients recovering from stroke or TIA who reside in counties of Chippewa, Pope, Swift, Todd, Wadena and parts of Stearns. When fully implemented, this program will be available in eight hospitals and seven home care agencies.

Sarah coordinated Deloris’s post-stroke care via telehealth video-conferencing equipment.

“I help patients understand their discharge instructions, medications and follow-up appointments. I also assist them in finding resources to obtain their medications, equipment, transportation and more,” Zastrow explained.

“These services are wonderful — the best thing ever,” Deloris said. “It feels great to be able to walk and talk just like I did before. I don’t even need to use my walker in the house.”

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