Grant to expand health program for homebound

The CentraState Healthcare Foundation has received a $318,000 grant to implement an Internet-based service for disease management. The two-year grant was awarded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through its New Jersey Health Initiatives program.

Along with CentraState Healthcare System, the Visiting Nurse Association of Central Jersey and the Monmouth County Office on Aging comprise the Monmouth County Chronic Care Consortium, formed three years ago. The grant will be used to expand "tele-health" services in the county through a program called TeleCare Connections. a Web-based program developed by the Monmouth County Office on Aging

According to Jay Solomon, vice president of senior services at CentraState, the program will help homebound patients, family members and professional caregivers manage chronic conditions such as congestive heart failure, diabetes and obesity.

The program empowers homebound clients to participate in their own care. They can choose either a television or a computer to access the service, which provides a medication inventory with audio and video reminders, remote monitoring of vital signs, nutrition plans and more. Clients also can view health education programs, participate in fitness activities, view live Webcasts of local events, send and receive e-mail, read local and national news, access a video-on-demand library, or video conference with their family, friends and care manager. Nurses and care managers can conduct individual "tele-visits," monitor vital signs, and provide education, support and training.

TeleCare Connections was implemented with technical consulting advice by VieBridge Inc., of Herndon, Va. It is the first program of its kind in New Jersey.