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News Release
Release No. STELPRD4013391
ContactJill Rees503.414.3302
Printable Version  Printable Version

Portland, Dec 08, 2011 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced a $253,260 grant which will allow Providence Health & Services to add five rural critical access hospitals in Eastern and Central Oregon to Providence Telestroke Network.

“Providence Brain and Spine Institute is very excited to be awarded this grant, which will give thousands of residents in rural parts of Oregon instant access to life saving treatment, “ said Bonnie W. Smith, executive director of Providence Brain and Spine Institute. “Instead of traveling for hours to receive treatment, stroke patients will have immediate access to Providence neurologists, who are available to treat patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Funding for the grant is provided through the USDA Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Program administered by USDA Rural Development.

“This program delivers educational and medical opportunities that are urgently needed in remote, rural areas,” Vilsack said. “President Obama has said that no matter where you live in America, you should have access to quality educational opportunities. Rural Americans deserve the same opportunities for education and medical care as metropolitan-area residents, and these funds will make that happen.”

Rural hospitals often lack practitioners trained in evaluating and treating a stroke, and patients in remote locations must often travel large distances to receive care from neurologists and specialized support. When a stroke occurs, however, every second counts.

The USDA grant will help connect hospitals in eastern and central Oregon to Providence Telestroke Network’s hub in Portland. Mobile robot devices with human-like mobility will be placed on location in the rural hospitals. Using two-way video cameras, over a secure Internet connection, Portland-based neurologists can examine and talk with the patient, family members and clinicians to quickly determine the best course of treatment.

Providence Telestroke Network currently connects stroke experts at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center and Providence Portland Medical Center to 14 communities outside of Portland. The telestroke network has been used to evaluate more than 1,000 patients since launching in April of 2010.

The teleconferencing system included in Providence Telestroke Network can also be used in rural areas for distance training of primary providers, nurses, and EMS staff.

The project is among three others in Oregon and 100 funded across the nation through the current DLT program announcement. USDA also awarded $312,285 to the North Central Education Service District in Condon for distance learning programs to help rural Gilliam, Sherman and Wheeler County residents earn associate degrees remotely.

Southwest Oregon Regional Airport in North Bend will also receive $440,000 to install distance learning facilities with advanced video teleconferencing equipment at the airport. From there, local volunteers with rural fire protection and port districts will be able to access fire science, search and rescue, and emergency medical training

“In all, USDA funded three exciting and life-saving Oregon projects through the current announcement,” said USDA Rural Development State Director Vicki Walker.

For a complete list of awardees that will receive funding under Rural Development’s DLT Program across the nation, please click here

Awards are contingent upon the recipients meeting the terms of the agreement with USDA.

Since taking office, President Obama’s Administration has taken historic steps to improve the lives of rural Americans, put people back to work and build thriving economies in rural communities. From proposing the American Jobs Act to establishing the first-ever White House Rural Council – chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack – the President wants the federal government to be the best possible partner for rural businesses, entrepreneurs and people who want to live, work and raise their families in rural communities.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has a portfolio of more than $160 billion in loans and loan guarantees. Visit for additional information about the agency's programs or to locate the USDA Rural Development office nearest you.

Last Modified:08/29/2012 
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