Saint Francis Medical Center has been awarded $262,068 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help purchase equipment for the first regional telestroke and teletrauma program in Southeast Missouri. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced funding for 52 distance learning and telemedicine projects that will increase access to healthcare and enhance educational opportunities in 29 states.
With the funds, Saint Francis’ Telestroke and Teletrauma Network Project will provide the equipment needed for timely, expert telemedicine consultations to patients at three rural hospitals in Southeast Missouri: Missouri Southern Healthcare in Dexter, Pemiscot County Memorial Hospital in Hayti and Perry County Memorial Hospital in Perryville. This service will benefit patients in the Southeast Missouri counties of Bollinger, Butler, Dunklin, New Madrid, Pemiscot, Perry, Scott, Stoddard and Wayne who arrive in the emergency room with symptoms of an acute stroke and/or trauma.
“It is unfortunate that most rural community hospitals do not have basic patient-assessment capability in place on an around-the-clock basis,” says Steven C. Bjelich, FACHE-D, Saint Francis President and Chief Executive Officer. “This results in the patient either not receiving the best available treatment or being transferred to Saint Francis, losing valuable time between original presentation in the emergency room, and treatment. This program will allow patients to receive lifesaving treatment in a timely manner, thus improving clinical outcomes,” he says.
Debby Sprandel, MSN, MBA, BSN, RN, director of Medical Management and Neurosciences, and Robert Grayhek, MBA, BSN, RN, director of Trauma and Disaster Services, will lead the project at Saint Francis, working with physicians to plan, develop and implement telestroke and teletrauma programming in the medically underserved areas of rural Southeast Missouri.
“Our rural communities need access to the latest educational and healthcare services to compete in the 21st Century,” Vilsack says. “The funding … for the Distance Learning and Telemedicine program will help ensure that rural citizens receive the same high-level, specialized medical care and educational services enjoyed by their fellow citizens in urban areas.”
In all, USDA awarded $14 million for 19 distance-learning projects, 32 telemedicine projects and one combined project, all benefitting rural counties.