Telehealth Services Help Save Rural West Virginia Teen
Monday, December 07, 2015
Lexus Kline was in a very dark place. The 15-year-old from rural West Virginia coal country had lost her best friend in a house explosion, and her relationship with her boyfriend had ended badly.
The Klines live in an area where mental health services are few. But as a benefit to their employees, the coal company for which her dad mines has a relationship with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to provide telehealth services for employees and their families with mental health concerns.
An on-site medical trailer at Tunnel Ridge mine serves as a clinic for employees. There, Lexus is able to meet with a mental health therapist at Cincinnati Children’s -- nearly 250 miles away.
Tunnel Ridge is owned by Alliance Resource Partners and is one of nearly a dozen Alliance mines that provide health clinics for employees, their spouses and dependents. They can visit the clinics, which are managed by Dr. Raymond Wells, for a wide range of medical services that are provided without cost, including telehealth services. If an employee were to visit with a rash, for example, telehealth technology could allow Dr. Wells at Alliance operations headquarters in Lexington, KY, to make an accurate diagnosis and help determine the best treatment.
The clinic provides prompt and cost-effective care for employees, their spouses and dependents. When families come to a clinic for mental health services, as Lexus’ family did at the Tunnel Ridge Health Center, they are often referred for telehealth consultations with mental health therapists at Cincinnati Children’s.
Lexus’ nurse practitioner, Hermiety Van Laar, referred her to Michael Sorter, MD, director of psychiatry at Cincinnati Children’s. Dr. Sorter then put Lexus in touch with Sarah Hebbeler, a therapist Lexus immediately responded to.
“To see her coming back, showing interest in sports again, showing interest in school again, it’s like seeing her born all over again,” says Misty Kline, Lexus’ mom. “She’s my old Lexus, she’s coming back, and it’s been great.”