ARH will use more than $500,000 of USDA funding to enhance telemedicine program

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Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 10:52 AM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WYMT) - Officials with one hospital system that serves several counties in our region will receive more than half a million dollars of federal money to enhance their existing telemedicine program.

United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack included the project through Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) as part of an announcement of more than $3.7 million of broadband funding on Friday.

“For too long, the ‘digital divide’ has left too many people living in rural communities behind, unable to compete in the global economy and unable to access the services and resources that all Americans need,” Vilsack said. “As we build back better than we were before, the actions I am announcing today will go a long way toward ensuring that people who live or work in rural areas are able to tap into the benefits of broadband, including access to specialized health care, educational opportunities and the global marketplace. Rural people, businesses and communities must have affordable, reliable, high-speed internet so they can fully participate in modern society and the modern economy.”

ARH will use $570,211 to add 33 telemedicine carts to 29 ARH facilities located throughout Eastern Kentucky and Western West Virginia. 19 of those will serve 17 outpatient clinic locations.

The project will also fund the purchase of 14 inpatient carts for 12 hospitals to help with consultations by various specialists including cardiology, pulmonology, and a telemedicine hospitalist program for some of ARH’s critical access hospitals.

Six inpatient carts will also be purchased to provide telemedicine services between obstetrics units across the ARH system, including the only level two NICU at Hazard ARH.

“A lot of folks in this region, when they need specialty care, a lot of times they’ll get transferred to Lexington or Louisville or Cincinnati, and that’s not realistic for some of our patients,” Nicole Winkleton, Telehealth Director at ARH said.

Winkleton said they plan to connect some of their rural clinics to specialists at the larger hub centers.

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