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CentraCare Health Receives USDA Grant

Published in Media Releases Author: CentraCare

ST. CLOUD, Minn. – CentraCare Health recently received a $391,763 Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development for the purchase of hardware and software necessary to deliver telemedicine services, such as telestroke, from St. Cloud Hospital to seven rural sites throughout Central Minnesota.

The Distance Learning and Telemedicine Loan and Grant Program is designed to meet the educational and health care needs of rural America.

“Through advanced telecommunications technologies, rural patients receive high quality care close to home resulting in lower costs and optimal health outcomes,” said Vamsi Dwaram, Director of Telehealth for CentraCare Health. “For rural hospitals and clinics, telemedicine helps maintain revenue and retain patients.”

CentraCare Health sites receiving equipment and software include Long Prairie, Melrose, Monticello, Paynesville and Sauk Centre. The critical access hospitals will receive two telemedicine carts: one for their emergency rooms and the other cart as a float to go between the emergency room and main part of the hospital. St. Cloud Hospital will receive five pieces of desktop equipment shared between the Neurology department, the Emergency and Trauma Center, and the CentraCare Heart & Vascular Center.

Additional hospitals with existing telemedicine equipment, including Douglas County Hospital of Alexandria and Tri-County Hospital of Wadena, also will benefit from the availability of software linking them to stroke specialists at St. Cloud Hospital. The software, made available through the grant, will allow additional connections with prospective health care clinics and hospitals for up to 100 users.

The software and equipment allow multiple users simultaneous access so that physicians from multiple sites can view the same patient at precisely the right time. For instance, if a patient presents at a CentraCare Health – Long Prairie Emergency Room with a suspected stroke, the health care provider can access the Trauma Center at St. Cloud Hospital and the Stroke Center. Medical professionals from the three sites can view and discuss the patient in real time to coordinate an action plan. The high speed and quality resolution assists with evaluating a patient’s motor skills for the best diagnosis.