Grant to Support Rural Emergency Care Effort

Indiana State University is partnering with Union Hospital and the Wabash Valley Rural Tele-health Network on a project to improve access to emergency services in rural areas.

The Health Resources and Services Administration has awarded the hospital a $1.2 million grant for the project. The grant is one of only five of its kind in the country.

The grant will support the implementation and evaluation of broad-scale tele-health networks to deliver 24-hour emergency department consultation services to rural providers without emergency care specialists.

While the grant emphasizes expanding access to needed services for rural patients, it also seeks to implement a systematic data collection and analysis strategy to create an evidence base for assessing the effectiveness of Tele-Emergency care for patients, providers and payers.

Indiana State's College of Nursing, Health, and Human Services will help provide the infrastructure and expertise needed for research data collection and analysis. Roseanne Fairchild, health services researcher in the department of advanced practice nursing, and Shiaw Fen Ferng, epidemiologist/biostatistician in the department of applied health sciences, will lead those efforts as part of the university's strategic plan to promote academic-practice partnerships to improve health in rural Indiana and Illinois communities.

Stephanie Laws, Union Hospital's principal investigator for the grant, is executive director of the Rural Health Innovation Collaborative and recently completed a master's degree in nursing administration at Indiana State.

Tele-emergency is defined as an immediate, synchronous, interactive audio/video connection between an emergency department specialist and general practitioners at the patient site, which is used to support delivery of emergency care. These services may include assessment of patients upon admission to the emergency department, interpretation of patient symptoms and clinical tests or data, supervision of providers administering treatment or pharmaceuticals, or coordination of patient transfer out of the local emergency department.

In addition to Indiana State, the hospital is partnering with a variety of local, state and national stakeholders to administer the grant. Special emphasis is being placed on patients with neurological, trauma and behavioral health care needs.

Source: Indiana State University

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michelle-smith“Telemedicine has allowed our patients to receive the care they need right here in Sullivan, IN. In our current challenging economic times, the more dollars we are able to retain locally the better off our community will be.”

- Michelle Franklin, CEO
Sullivan County
Community Hospital