Kandeija Bagurusi and Connor Oetzmann

Telehealth Sustainability at Wilderness Health

Isabel Margerie

Kandeija Bagurusi, BS, from the Medical School and Connor Oetzmann, MHA, from the School of Public Health are working with Wilderness Health to create policy briefs to help policymakers create changes that will enhance access to quality health care for those living in rural areas. The team is specifically focusing on telehealth access for mental and behavioral health. 

Wilderness Health is a collaborative of independent health care professionals in northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin. Their main goals are to enhance patient experience, provide better health outcomes, lower the cost of care, and improve the care team experience. 

Bagurusi and Oetzmann began by researching the current landscape surrounding telehealth access and mental health in Minnesota and Wisconsin to identify key challenges and existing policies. The team then compiled their research into preliminary reports that helped to identify key challenges and obstacles. Through this research, the team learned more about the impact of location on access to quality specialized care. They shared, “As aspiring health care professionals, it's crucial to advocate and support policies that can eliminate these barriers and promote equitable access to services.”

Bagurusi and Oetzmann additionally shared that this experience has strengthened their skills in teamwork and interprofessional communication, and has allowed them to contribute to improving patient outcomes and advancements in the health care industry. 

Bagurusi shared, “This experience has reinforced my aspirations to advocate for positive change to promote access to care for the communities that I will one day serve.”


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