Upton helps deliver $321,000 to boost rural health care

Published 8:48 am Thursday, December 8, 2005

By Staff
WASHINGTON, DC - Congressman Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) Wednesday announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded Kalamazoo's Borgess Health Alliance a $321,020 telemedicine grant.
The funding will allow Borgess Health Alliance to expand its SW Michigan Telehealth network and establish a Regional Virtual Intensive Care Unit network with six community hospitals that serve patients in Kalamazoo, Van Buren, Cass, St. Joseph and Berrien counties.
Upton, a strong supporter of the Borgess telehealth network, had urged the USDA's Office of Rural Development to support the program.
The expanded telehealth system will provide patient monitoring, real-time ICU consultations between attending physicians and intensivist physicians, real-time diagnostic examinations, and specialty care services through videoconferencing, digital diagnostic imaging, and remote monitoring between the hub and end-user sites. The grant will improve continuing medical education opportunities for professional medical staff; increase educational programming for community residents; provide 24-hour a day, seven day a week cardiac consult capability for rural hospitals; and improve the coordination of patient transfer from rural to tertiary facilities.
This week the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Rural Development awarded a total of 79 Distance Learning and Telemedicine grants, totaling over $29.4 million, which will provide improved educational and medical services to residents of 36 states. Of the 79 projects selected, 35 provide funding for medical service improvements and 44 promote educational opportunities. The Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program is designed to enhance educational and health care services in rural America. During the past five years, USDA's Rural Development has invested over $4.6 billion in telecommunications programs across America.
USDA Rural Development's mission is to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life in rural communities. Rural Development forges partnerships with rural communities, funding projects that bring housing, community facilities, utilities and other services and also provides technical assistance and financial backing for rural businesses and cooperatives to create quality jobs in rural areas.