Health: Telehealth here to stay

Written by Gail G. Collins

Until recently, a virtual visit with a physician via computer screen to discuss or assess a medical condition had the whiff of sci-fi, but the future arrived quickly.

“If there has been a silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been the positive impact and growth of Virtual Care (Telehealth) … which allowed NAH (Northern Arizona Healthcare) and other health systems across the nation to fully embrace virtual care delivery,” director Travis Boren said.

Prior to the pandemic, telehealth had limited, but growing, application and acceptance. A host of barriers blocked broader usage of telehealth, such as insurance coverage, patient comfort, technology access, privacy and so on. As businesses shut down or migrated to home-based work, the overall need for health access increased. Policymakers, insurers and health systems searched for methods to deliver care to patients in their homes to limit transmission of the virus.

NAH had been working to expand telehealth for a decade, beginning with remote patient monitoring. After rapid expansion of virtual care programs, the focus is stabilizing the ecosystem.

“Key investments will continue to be made in the coming six-to-12 months to support our virtual visit, remote patient monitoring and acute telehealth capabilities,” Boren added.

When regulations were lifted after the first quarter in 2020, North Country Healthcare grew its site-to-site telehealth program to in-home visits using Zoom by leveraging the FCC’s COVID-19 Telehealth grants. This summer, the Patient Portal will transition to an integrated platform for smooth access without an app to enhance the workflow.  

North Country offered refills, medication changes, lab follow-ups and review, general questions as well as chronic patient care.

“Should there be any need for a physical exam or in-person tests, labs or imaging, we can then schedule curbside, in-office or referrals,” said chief medical officer April Alvarez-Corona, MD.

The pandemic created more than a physical health crisis. According to Pew Research Center, by May, one-third of Americans had already experienced high levels of psychological distress related to the outbreak.

Cultivate Counseling made a big pivot in March, moving its services solely to telehealth to provide a smooth transition of care. The rate of cancellations fell as access to therapy sessions rose. Patients can open a laptop, log in and receive therapy.

“People can pop in during lunch, from work or at home with the kids,” said clinical director and owner Melissa Dohse. “There are more benefits than drawbacks, and most (clients) prefer telehealth.”

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Amangiri Executive Chef Anthony Marazita

Northern Arizona’s Mountain Living Magazine, April 2021

Photos and Story by Gail G. Collins

Framed by the dunes and ridges of the Colorado Plateau, Amangiri blends into the wildscape. Located 25 miles from Page, the secluded resort offsets the raw aesthetic with streamlined elegance. The poured concrete structure of neutral tones and textures takes full advantage of the panorama while affording pared back serenity.

Amangiri opened in 2009 after a six-year building process. Two wings contain 34 suites, many with desert or mesa views, private plunge pools and fireplaces. Its central pool hugs a 65 million-year-old rock outcrop, a setting reminiscent of Horseshoe Bend. Sister property Camp Sarika, Sanskrit for “open sky,” enables wilderness encounters without compromising comfort.

Located on 600 acres in Utah, the resort is within reach of five national parks. Day tripping includes the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon or Monument Valley’s buttes or a splash in Lake Powell. Property adventures offer hiking trails to explore with resident guides, horseback riding and a sunset hot air balloon launch.

An intimate personal journey begins in the spa with the full complement of massages and outdoor treatment terraces, plus flotation and water pavilions with steam, sauna and cold plunge invigoration. Then, indulge the body with nourishing meals that combine Indigenous ingredients with global accents.

Amangiri’s adventurous cuisine is executive chef Anthony Marazita’s signature. 

“The over-tweezed 12-course meal is a thing of the past,” he said. “Simple, but elegant, dishes with high-end quality ingredients—paying homage to a classic meatloaf, for example—that satisfies people.”

The southwest is familiar as the chef grew up in a family restaurant in Reno, Nevada, where he said he fell in love with taking care of people.  

Most kids collected Ninja turtles; Marazita collected cookbooks. The contrasting styles of Charlie Trotter, whose chic presentation established Chicago as a serious dining destination, versus Lyon’s Paul Bocuse with a profound respect for local products and meticulous cooking processes, fascinated him.

The homegrown chef learned from the dishwasher to the line cook on up. From fine dining apprenticeships in Napa and San Francisco in his teens with exposure to international fare through the galleys of lavish hotels on the West Coast to indulging premiere guests at Starwood Hotel and Resort’s St. Regis in Kauai and Sheraton Grand in Scottsdale, Marazita earned his kitchen credentials.

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