Mississippi River states get $6M in telemedicine grants

By Eric Wicklund
09:52 AM

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing more than $6 million to launch telemedicine projects in six states along the Mississippi River.

Mississippi will receive more than half of the rural healthcare grant money, with $3 million earmarked for the Taborian Urgent Care Center in Mound Bayou and another $700,000 set aside to help the Delta Health Alliance create an eICU at the University of Mississippi Medical Center to serve five hospitals in the state’s poorest counties.

"These projects can provide care to patients currently receiving no care at all and hopefully reduce the incidence of stroke, mental illness, and other health disorders in rural regions," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a press release issued last Friday.

In Louisiana, three projects will receive about $700,000. One project, tabbed for a $364,400 grant, will link five rural nursing homes through video-conferencing to help Medicaid patients with specialists to deal with such issues as heart, lung, kidney, cancer and wound care. A $62,800 grant will go to the Franklin Parish Hospital Service District to set up video conferencing services for mental health patients in Franklin and Tensas parishes, whose population of mentally ill people is far above state and national averages. And $270,000 will go to the Ochsner Clinic Foundation to link eight rural hospitals in the center of the state to improve access to stroke care specialists.

In Arkansas, Arkansas State University at Mountain Home will get $384,700 and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences will get another $162,000 to set up Internet and telecommunications education services for medical and nursing students, including video consultation services at the latter’s Delta Telecommunications Centers.

In Alabama, the Tombigbee Health Care Authority will get $384,700 to launch a mobile medical van service. In Kentucky, Murray State University is getting $233,400 to establish a telemedicine service for eight hospitals in the western part of the state. And in Illinois, the state’s Connect SI Foundation will get almost $520,000 to provide health education and healthcare job training services via distance learning hookups to four colleges and two high school in the southern part of the state.