Kurtis Kennedy nearly died in the hospital last December when his battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer caused life-threatening complications. Thanks to Mercy Virtual’s pilot program for cancer patients, a medical team has kept him out of the hospital and at home.
His Mercy oncologist, Dr. Carla Kurkjian, thought Kennedy could better manage his symptoms by enrolling in vEngagement, a program that uses technology to care for patients with chronic conditions in their homes through an iPad and wireless monitoring equipment.
“I was in and out of the hospital all the time,” said Kennedy, who also has diabetes and together with chemotherapy, it creates major fluctuations in his daily blood sugars. “This is a daily struggle that impacts every part of my life. I’m trying to fight my cancer and control my blood sugar and if I don’t do them both at the same time, I won’t live much longer.”
Kennedy measures his weight, blood pressure and oxygen concentration once daily and checks his blood sugar three times a day.
“I was skeptical because I live alone and I’m a disaster when it comes to electronics but it’s been very easy for me to use,” said Kennedy, 61, a retired wastewater technician from Edmond, Oklahoma.
His health information is automatically entered into his electronic health record via the iPad and the team at Mercy Virtual monitors the data.
“It gives me great relief to know they’re always there because if my blood pressure or blood sugar is high, a nurse calls immediately to adjust my diet or insulin,” Kennedy said.
Besides the vEngagement pilot program that includes 50 cancer patients in Oklahoma City and Joplin, Missouri, Mercy Virtual also provides comprehensive care for patients with diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure and other chronic conditions.
“I’m finding my patients tolerate chemotherapy with fewer delays in treatment and experience a better quality of life,” said Dr. Kurkjian.
For Kennedy, that means doing the things he enjoys most.
“I ride my Harley once a week with friends,” Kennedy said. “I may not have much time left but I get to spend it doing what I love.”