Deaf Resident Strikes the Right Note with Telemedicine

Jermaine Greene likes tattoos. In total, he has 28. He also loves rap music and says he is a big fan of Spice 1, an American rapper from California. Listening to music is one of his favorite activities. But he can’t hear. He was born deaf and learned sign language at the age of 3 in northern Virginia.

In 1986, he came to the school for the deaf in Spartanburg. He played football, basketball, wrestling and was even on the track team.

It was through his case manager at the South Carolina Department of Mental Health (SCDMH), Cynthia, that he learned about telemedicine.

The SCDMH's mission is to support the recovery of people with mental illnesses. Since 1828, SCDMH has provided treatment to more than four million South Carolinians.

In 1989, the SCDMH established the Deaf Services program to supplement the care provided to its deaf clientele. At that point, encounters with (non-signing) psychiatrists required the presence of third-party interpreters. A couple of years later, it was felt that the quality of care could be improved by using telemedicine technology. Through this method, a psychiatrist who is fluent in sign language communicates directly to the client by video, without the need for third-party interpreters.