Success Story
Release No.STELPRD4011120
, Jul 13, 2011 --

USDA Rural Development

Telecommunications Program

Success Story: Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program

St. Mary’s and Clearwater Valley Hospitals and Clinics, Idaho


Clearwater Valley and St. Mary’s Hospitals and their associated clinics joined forces in 1988 and now they are known as St. Mary’s and Clearwater Valley Hospital and Clinics (SMHC /CVHC). They serve a geographic area where the population density for the three counties is 2.4 people per square mile. Also, residents of this area have a low ability to pay for health expenses, as one in every three people exists on less than 200% of federal poverty guidelines. The unemployment rate in Clearwater County is usually one of the highest in the state and the average per capita income is around $21,000.

How Rural Development Helped:

Rural Development awarded St. Mary’s and Clearwater Hospital and Clinics two Distance Learning and Telemedicine grants; a $500,000 grant in 2004 and a $289,369 grant in 2005. Together, the money funded the electronic medical records and informatics system as well as the equipments for a teleradiology network. The partners in this project include Clearwater Valley Hospital, Kamiah Medical Clinic, three rural physical therapy clinics, seven satellite medical clinics, and eleven associated primary care clinics.


St. Mary‘s and Clearwater Hospital and Clinics used the funding they received in 2004 to installed hardware and software for a joint Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system called Meditech. The system offers numerous benefits such as providing electronic referrals, communicating with other providers, electronically prescribing medication, reducing medical errors, and increasing efficiencies. This project continues to improve primary patient care, safety, access to care and as well as provide practitioners with immediate patient information regardless of their location. The 2005 grant serves 30,000 residents and the 2004 grant serves 28,000 residents in an area that covers over 12,000 square miles in the center of Idaho.

St. Mary’s and Clearwater Hospital and Clinics have received several awards. In February 2009, they were selected to participate in a five year initiative funded by the Commonwealth Foundation and Coordinated by Qualis Health. In 2011, St. Mary’s and Clearwater Hospital and Clinics were named the 2011 Outstanding Rural Health Organization by the National Rural Health Association. 

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