Grace Health was recently awarded a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in the amount of $790,400 through their Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program, administered by the Rural Utilities Service (RUS).
Congressman Andy Barr's (right) Press Conference with USDA Rural Development Kentucky State Director Hilda Legg (left) and Michael Stanley, Grace Health CEO (center). This conference announced the USDA Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants.
The purpose of the Grace Health DLT project is two-fold: 1) to increase services, including substance use disorders / opioid use disorders (SUD/OUD), to pregnant women served by Grace Health’s regional Women’s Care center via telehealth to improve health outcomes for newborns and 2) to offer tele-radiology services to patients using portable radiology equipment with an emphasis on serving our high-risk elderly and nursing home patients. Both of these service delivery models will be highly effective ways of meeting patients’ needs in the event the coronavirus returns in the fall and / or we experience a recurring annual “season” of the virus.
Grace Health’s DLT project service area includes Bell, Clay, and Knox counties. “All of our service area counties have been designated as part of federally designated Opportunity Zone designed to encourage economic and educational development in one of the nation’s most impoverished settings” states Michael Stanley, Grace Health’s CEO.
The proposed project will impact a total three-county service area population of 78,487 with high rates of low-income residents. Stanley reports, “We expect to serve approximately 1,025 community residents. By the end of the three-year project period, Grace Health will have implemented models of distance learning and telehealth that will be replicable in other rural communities for reducing barriers to access and increasing patient engagement.” Grace Health will focus this DLT project at four fixed sites and incorporate portable equipment at non-fixed sites. The portability of the devices included in this plan are critical to addressing the issues related to patient engagement, transportation and improving care coordination and education.
Pregnant women participating in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) are at increased risk of complications. The ability to maintain a high level of access for follow-up visits, patient support and patient education will truly impact outcomes for a healthy mother and a healthy baby. Teleradiology will reduce the rates at which nursing home and older patients have to go to the hospital for an x-ray to receive a diagnosis. Often, the trip to the hospital exacerbates problems for these patients. In addition, the availability of transportation is severely limited and often costly.
We expect to have the following outcomes:
- Increase education and care coordination to at least 500 pregnant women annually to mitigate unhealthy behaviors and reduce prevalence of low birth weight.
- Provide MAT to at least 150 pregnant women during the 3-year project period to reduce the prevalence of babies born with NAS/NOW.
- Reduce the costs of ambulance transportation needed for patients that may have pneumonia or other conditions requiring chest x-rays to reduce hospitalization rates and improve patient care.
- Increase access to services.
- Reduce the necessity for nursing home patient travel for diagnostic x-rays.
- Increase provider capacity to diagnose and treat patients in their respective clinic location.
For more information or to contact Grace Health, please visit GraceHealthKy.org.