Six local hospitals will experience improved access to specialists in neurology and psychiatry thanks to a USDA grant award. Mission Health has been selected to receive a Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant in the amount of $419,351, the largest grant in the more than $1.5 million awarded to North Carolina projects from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The program’s objective is to improve access to health care and educational services in rural communities.
The Telehealth system connects Mission Hospital physicians to the regional hospitals through the use of live, two-way, audio/video technology. The system will provide behavioral health and stroke services to people who live in rural areas or in communities with a shortage of psychiatrists and neurologists.
“Our mountainous region challenges all of us to be innovative in how we deliver healthcare,” said Jonathan Bailey, Vice President, Operations. “With this technology, Mission can provide support and increased access to specialists in collaboration with regional facilities and healthcare providers. This not only elevates quality of care in rural settings, it also supports the ability to keep patients locally whenever possible.”
This technology expedites access to healthcare, eliminates geographic transport barriers, and reduces cost to patients and the healthcare system. Most importantly, by giving the patient timely access to specialists, this will improve the overall quality of healthcare available for residents of Western North Carolina.
Mission Hospital will work with six regional “end user” hospitals located in rural, mountainous areas within Western North Carolina to implement telemedicine programs consisting of telestroke and telepsychiatry services. These end user hospitals include Blue Ridge Regional Hospital, Transylvania Regional Hospital, Angel Medical Center, Murphy Medical Center, Cherokee Indian Hospital and Swain County Hospital.
The USDA granted funds to a total of six distance learning and telemedicine projects across the state. In addition to Mission Healthcare Foundation, the grant recipients are James Sprunt Community College, $192,870; ECU School of Dental Medicine, $392,748; the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, $81,324; Easter Seals UCP North Carolina & Virginia, $251,235; and Sampson Regional Medical Center, $169,852. Funding is provided through the USDA Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program.