July 7, 20198:09 AM ET | Heard on Weekend Edition Sunday
Telehealth turned Jill Hill's life around.
The 63-year-old lives on the edge of rural Grass Valley, an old mining town in the Sierra Nevada foothills of northern California. She was devastated after her husband Dennis passed away in the fall of 2014 after a long series of medical and financial setbacks.
"I was grief-stricken and my self-esteem was down," Hill remembers. "I didn't care about myself. I didn't brush my hair. I was isolated. I just kind of locked myself in the bedroom."
Hill says knew she needed therapy to deal with her deepening depression. But the main health center in her rural town had just two therapists. Hill was told she'd only be able to see a therapist once a month.
Then, Brandy Hartsgrove called to say Hill was eligible via MediCal (California's version of Medicaid) for a program that could offer her 30-minute video counseling sessions twice a week. The sessions would be via a computer screen with a therapist who was hundreds of miles south, in San Diego.
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