Flagstaff Medical Center receives $124,000 USDA grant to extend telehealth program to rural physicians

Cardiologist Dena Wilson demonstrates the desk-to-clinic telemedicine technology Flagstaff Medical  Center uses to reach rural doctors. Grant money from the United States Department of Agriculture helped to pay for the equipment. Submitted photo

Cardiologist Dena Wilson demonstrates the desk-to-clinic telemedicine technology Flagstaff Medical Center uses to reach rural doctors. Grant money from the United States Department of Agriculture helped to pay for the equipment. Submitted photo

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Specialists at Flagstaff Medical Center (FMC) can consult with doctors in Tuba City and other rural communities to help treat patients with chronic health conditions like coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, hypertension and emphysema using 30-inch monitors and cameras.

A $124,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will help the hospital expand its telehealth programs and outreach. The grant connects cardiologists and pulmonologists to rural providers and patients by providing physician-to-physician consultations and virtual patient clinic visits through direct video conferencing.

"This grant is enhancing our ability to offer coordinated care across rural regions of Northern Arizona, providing patients better access to specialists and allowing for improved continuity of care delivery," said Dena Wilson, M.D., cardiologist, with the Indian Health Service Native American Cardiology Program at FMC. "With this technology, patients will be able to visit their closest clinic to receive specialized care from a cardiologist or pulmonologist who is able to work directly with the patient and primary care team to develop a treatment plan."

FMC will use grant money to purchase and deliver new GlobalMed telemedicine carts to the rural Indian Health Service (IHS) and tribally-governed healthcare clinics in Tuba City, Peach Springs, Pinon and Havasupai, on the floor of the Grand Canyon. Additionally, the hospital will put a cart at Little Colorado Medical Center in Winslow.

The equipment includes a 30-inch monitor and zoom camera that serves as an interactive clinical assessment tool. The telemedicine connection allows physicians to securely send and receive patient images and information via digital stethoscopes for heart and lung assessments and hand-held exam cameras.

"This project launches a model of care that transcends traditional medicine, using the latest technology to care for patients beyond the walls of the hospital," said William Bradel, Flagstaff Medical Center president and CEO. "The grant funds will allow us to partner with other healthcare facilities and physicians to reach into outlying areas where healthcare is most needed. We are honored to be working with the USDA, IHS and rural healthcare providers."

More information about programs and services available at Flagstaff Medical Center is available at www.FlagstaffMedicalCenter.

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