Telehealth Patient Story - Maternal Fetal Medicine Spring 2020
Autumn Bohac of Effingham was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when she was 16 years old. Now a 29-year-old mother of four, her health care journey reveals the everyday anxiety and pain that rural patients feel.
Autumn lives just a few blocks away from her town’s hospital. However, specialty care teams she has needed to manage her diabetes and four high-risk pregnancies have always been almost two hours away.
With her first two pregnancies, seeing a specialist required 1.5 hours of travel. However, during her 3rd and 4th pregnancies, she was able to use telehealth for appointments with SIU Medicine’s Department of Maternal-Fetal Medicine in Springfield.
“I just can’t stress how nice it was to be able to have specialty appointments that didn’t require that I take an entire day off of work and search for childcare.” Telehealth options connecting Effingham to Springfield was “a huge improvement” to her way of life.
Still, one stressor for Autumn and millions of mothers like her is there were no options to deliver her children at her hometown hospital. With her health history and the lack of a NICU, delivering her babies required that she travel nearly 2 hours to Springfield.
Autumn wants every state and national policymaker talking about rural health to stop long enough to listen to the real-life struggles of people without transportation and access to a healthcare that includes specialists and telehealth services. She believes that if they listen to stories like hers, they will quickly realize that this isn’t about election politics at all.
“It’s about access. It’s about the everyday struggle to get the care you need. These are the stories that politicians need to listen to.”