National MS Society, Kern Medical Center Set to Launch Telemedicine Program
Scott Thygerson & Christine Grontkowski | 2/4/2014 12:00:00 AM
Bakersfield - After more than three years of planning, purchasing and installing equipment, and training staff,
the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society in partnership with Kern Medical Center 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 last Thursday, 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 since 2008. “Soon after, 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(more) 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 educate the health care professionals in Kern County of the
complexities of multiple sclerosis care.”
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 worldwide.
About the National Multiple Sclerosis Society
The Society mobilizes people and resources to drive research for a cure and to address the challenges of everyone affected
by MS. In 2012 alone, through our home office and 50-state network of chapters, we devoted $122.1 million to programs and
services that improved the lives of more than one million people. To move us closer to a world free of MS, the Society also
invested $43.3 million to support more than 350 new and ongoing research projects around the world. We are people who want to do
something about MS now. Join the movement at nationalMSsociety.org.