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La Maestra Community Health Centers Expands Telemedicine Program
Date:10/17/2008

$73,000 Grant From Verizon Improves Access to Care in Underserved Communities

SAN DIEGO, Oct. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Continuing its efforts to provide state-of-the-art medical care to underserved residents of San Diego County, La Maestra Community Health Centers announced Friday (Oct. 17) the expansion of its telemedicine program, thanks to a $73,000 grant from Verizon.

The grant has been used to purchase new equipment including a camera that can be coupled to specialized medical devices such as dermascopes and ear, nose and throat scopes. The camera allows physicians at facilities elsewhere in the county to perform more thorough examinations of patients at La Maestra's clinic in the City Heights neighborhood here. Images are transmitted over secure point-to-point connections to ensure patient confidentiality.

"Bringing this kind of technology to our clinic will directly benefit our patients and our partners in remote areas of the county," said Zara Marselian, La Maestra's chief executive officer. "Thanks to Verizon, we have been able to expand our telemedicine capabilities in the areas of ENT diagnosis and dermatology. The dermascope we purchased will play a critical role in caring for patients with diabetes. Telemedicine is a big part of our future and one of the most important trends in health care today."

La Maestra has been a telemedicine provider since 2005 and is the first urban clinic in San Diego to implement a telemedicine program. Currently, La Maestra provides mental-health services to rural clinics in San Diego and Imperial counties and has created a network of specialty providers, such as the Scripps Mercy Hospital cardiology department, that are willing to participate in this innovative approach to increase access for patient care.

David Shaw, M.D., M.B.A, cardiologist and director of graduate medical education at Scripps Mercy Hospital, said, "This technology allows for further collaboration between clinics through extended clinical reach and the sharing of resources, which in turn offers the members of our community health care options they might not otherwise have access to."

Elva Lima, Verizon's vice president of strategic programs, said, "Broadband technology is revolutionizing the way we live, and nowhere is its potential greater than in the field of health care. Verizon is building the communications networks that are making this revolution possible, and, at the same time, we are investing in farsighted projects such as La Maestra's, which are leading the way in using technology to benefit everyone in our community."

About La Maestra

Since 1990, La Maestra has been providing quality healthcare and community services to more than 68,000 ethnically diverse clients in San Diego. La Maestra, the largest employer in City Heights, San Diego's most culturally diverse neighborhood, has a staff of more than 147 doctors, dentists, mental-health providers, nurses, counselors, social workers and staff who speak 19 different languages and dialects. Clients of La Maestra can receive a full range of primary medical services for all ages. Additionally clients can receive dental, behavioral health, vision and geriatric care. Social services including job placement, eligibility, outreach, transportation, translation, housing assistance, health education and a food pantry are also available. La Maestra currently provides services through an assortment of 14 converted residential buildings on a single city block in City Heights. La Maestra also has clinics in National City, El Cajon and a school based medical and dental clinic at Hoover High School. For more information, please visit http://www.lamaestra.org.

About Verizon

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), headquartered in New York, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving nearly 69 million customers nationwide. Verizon's Wireline operations include Verizon Business, which delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world, and Verizon Telecom, which brings customers the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services over the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network. A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of more than 228,600 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of $93.5 billion. For more information, visit http://www.verizon.com.

VERIZON'S ONLINE NEWS CENTER: Verizon news releases, executive speeches and biographies, media contacts, high-quality video and images, and other information are available at Verizon's News Center on the World Wide Web at http://www.verizon.com/news. To receive news releases by e-mail, visit the News Center and register for customized automatic delivery of Verizon news releases.


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