Legacy Plans To Boost Telehealth With $370,000 Grant

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The Federal Communication Commission has awarded Legacy Health nearly $370,000 to boost its telemedicine capabilities.

The funding is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security or CARES Act approved by Congress. The act earmarked $200 million for the commission to distribute across the country for telehealth projects in rural and other areas. To date, the commission has approved $50 million worth of applications. Companies or agencies are not handed the money but must invoice the agency and justify the expenses to get reimbursed.

Legacy’s application asked for money for equipment to help providers in the emergency department care for patients remotely when possible. The money will fund telemedicine carts, which are like mobile desks with a computer, monitor, cameras and other equipment that providers can wheel from room to room. It also asked for tablets and remote diagnostic equipment.

“This grant will enhance those capabilities to support hospitalized inpatients, reduce unnecessary exposure to COVID-19 for patients and hospital staff and conserve personal protective equipment through the use of telehealth services to monitor and treat patients in a hospital setting,” said Brian Terrett, Legacy spokesman. “Legacy serves a significant population of vulnerable patients who we believe will be better served and protected by telehealth virtual visits, avoiding potential exposure to COVID-19 in traditional physical health care settings. These improvements will also help Legacy’s robust telehealth program that supports patients living in rural areas.”

Technically the money was granted to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, which filed the application, but Terrett indicated that Emanuel will share the grant with the system’s two other emergency departments: at Randall Children’s Hospital, also in North Portland, at Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center in Northwest Portland.

Legacy hospitals have admitted 174 patients for COVID-19. Terrett said, mostly through the emergency department. He said none of its staff members has been infected or hospitalized.

Legacy is only the second Oregon entity to be approved for reimbursement by the commission. Earlier, the agency swarded $56,332 to the Linn County Department of Health Services to implement telehealth services to provide medical services, mental health services and maternal health services. One third of its patients are in rural areas.

The latest grant was hailed by Oregon’s U.S. senators -- Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden -- in a statement.

“Telehealth has proven to be an incredibly valuable tool for medical providers to care for patients in Oregon and nationwide,” Wyden said. “During a pandemic, that value is magnified even more -- and I am gratified that Legacy Emanuel has earned these urgently needed federal resources to help Oregonians during this public health crisis.”

Merkley added: “Investments in telehealth capabilities not only help our dedicated health care professionals deliver high-quality care to Oregonians during this pandemic, but also help us keep those workers on the frontline of this crisis healthy.”

In the latest round, the agency granted $17 million to 43 entities. Two organizations -- Novant Health Consortium in Winston Salem, North Carolina; and New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, in Brooklyn, New York -- won $1 million each and three others -- Bridgeport Hospital, in Bridgeport, Connecticut; Children’s National Hospital, in Washington, D.C.; and Lincoln County Primary Care Center in Hamlin, West Virginia -- were approved for more than $920,000 each. 

You can reach Lynne Terry at [email protected] or on Twitter @LynnePDX.


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