Nov. 25, 1997 The National Council on the Aging and the Ameritech Foundation have awarded a $25,000 grant to the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center to support a program that allows older patients to test their own blood at home and transmit results to the hospital electronically.
"During the cold Chicago winters and the hot Chicago summers, it is very difficult for many of our older patients to come to the lab every three to four days to have their blood drawn," says Mary Bondmass, coordinator of the program and a doctoral candidate at UIC's College of Nursing. In response to this problem, Bondmass has adapted a system that will allow patients to monitor their blood at home and transmit the information via a modem to the hospital.
Bondmass will train patients to take a blood sample and use a machine called a coagulation monitor to analyze the blood. With the press of a button, the patient will then transmit the blood analysis information over a telephone line directly to the UIC Medical Center. The results will be monitored by a doctor at the hospital. If there is a problem, the patient's physician will be alerted and the physician will contact the patient about treatment. The response time for such a situation is under five minutes.
The blood-information transmission program at UIC will target patients with atrial fibrillation who are susceptible to blood clotting, which can lead to strokes. Atrial fibrillation is an abnormal heart rhythm that occurs when the heart's upper chambers (atria) contract extremely rapidly. Atrial fibrillation affects about two million people in the United States and occurs in 7 to 14 percent of the older adult population.
The grant to UIC is part of the Innovations in Communications Technology program -- sponsored by the National Council on the Aging and the Ameritech Foundation -- which fosters innovative uses of technology that help older people and people with disabilities.
"Ameritech is awarding these grants to recognize how organizations are beginning to use advanced communications to enhance the quality of lives of people of all ages and capabilities," says Douglas L. Whitley, president of Ameritech Illinois. "Many people have the false assumption that older Americans cannot or do not want to benefit from new communications technology.
"The fact of the matter is that such technology helps foster independent living among older Americans and people with disabilities. Many of these individuals are now learning how computers can help better manage their fiances and give them access to a greater variety of health services and medical information. It also allows them to stay active and independent in today's society and enables them to stay in touch with family and friends."
The National Council on the Aging is a center of leadership and expertise on the issues of aging. The council's 7,000 members include individuals and organizations that serve or work on behalf of older persons. Founded in 1950, the council is headquartered in Washington, DC.
Ameritech services millions of customers in 50 states and 40 countries by providing a full range of communications services, including local and long distance telephone, cellular, paging, security monitoring, cable TV, electronic commerce, on-line services and more. Ameritech has a strong tradition of giving back to the communities it serves. Last year, the company contributed more than $25 million to 2,000 nonprofit organizations, and Ameritech Pioneers -- 25,000 employees and retirees throughout the Midwest -- volunteered 332,500 hours of community service by supporting health and human services, civic and community projects, and educational and arts programs.
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