BISMARCK, N.D., Jun 06, 2012 -- USDA Rural Development State Director Jasper Schneider announced that Garrison Memorial Hospital and Altru Health System will receive over $380,000 in grants to expand health care services in rural communities. The grant funding was provided through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program.
“Through technology, we are able to provide resources and expertise to rural areas that previously were not available,” said Schneider. “These projects break a distance barrier to improve critical health care services to rural residents.”
Garrison Memorial Hospital was awarded an $119,833 grant to deliver telepharmacy services. By purchasing automated medication-dispensing units, document cameras, and video conferencing systems, pharmacists are able to provide care to patients at a distance. The initiative, operated from the St. Alexius Medical Center in Bismarck, will serve two critical access hospitals in rural McLean County. Garrison Memorial Hospital and Community Memorial Hospital in Turtle Lake will have access to pharmacists for consultations, training and medication oversight. The project will ensure that rural patients receive safe, high quality pharmaceutical care without a pharmacist needing to be physically present.
“Our population is aging which puts a strain on our local pharmacist,” said Dean Mattern, President/CEO of Garrison Memorial Hospital. “With this grant from USDA, we will have access to additional pharmacists 24 hours a day seven days a week.”
Altru Health System, based in Grand Forks, was awarded a $266,900 grant to implement digital imaging into a telemedicine network between their clinics in five rural communities (Cavalier and Drayton in North Dakota; and Fertile, Red Lake Falls and Warroad in Minnesota). The project will replace or upgrade x-ray units to digital imaging. Installation of the equipment will modernize radiology services to nearly 20,000 people in northeast North Dakota and northwest Minnesota. Radiology staff and specialists, located at Altru in Grand Forks or Cooperstown, will be able to consult immediately with local physicians as images will be made available through a secure network. Rural patients will not only save valuable and costly travel time due to the digital technology, but will have access to the same high quality services available in urban areas.
“Altru Health Foundation is excited for the opportunity to collaborate with USDA on this grant,” said Jon Green, Executive Director of Altru Health Foundation. “Through this project, Altru Health System will bring the latest imaging technology to our rural patients in their local communities. With this equipment upgrade, we will provide a higher level of health care to our patients.”