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Southwest Washington Hospital Collaborative Receives Funding from USDA for Telemedicine

February 10, 2011

New telestroke network will improve stroke care for residents of rural communities in five-county area

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Thanks to the efforts of Washington’s two U.S. Senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, residents in rural Southwest Washington can look forward to better emergency stroke treatment. The senators were instrumental in helping hospitals in Southwest Washington obtain a $309,368 grant through the USDA’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program. The grant will fund a “telestroke network” that will allow rural physicians to connect via video to neurologists at Providence St. Peter Hospital, any time of day or night.

Funding will provide broadband equipment and cameras at Providence St. Peter Hospital, as well as six rural hospitals. In addition to providing emergency bedside video conferencing, physicians also will be able to confidentially share diagnostic images of the brain. The project will initially focus on treatment for stroke and will provide a foundation for a comprehensive telemedicine network in the future.

“Time lost is brain lost,” according to Dr. James McDowell, Medical Director, Providence St. Peter Hospital’s Certified Stroke Program. “Enhancing our ability to consult quickly and accurately will drastically improve patient outcomes. Rapid treatment of stroke can reduce disabilities and save lives.”

Senator Patty Murray said, “Investing in rural health care is good for local patients, good for local doctors and good for local communities. I was proud to support these local investments in rural telemedicine so families across the state can get the care they deserve, regardless of where they live.”

Partner hospitals in Thurston, Mason, Grays Harbor, Lewis and Pacific counties include: Providence St. Peter Hospital; Grays Harbor Community Hospital; Mark Reed Health Care District; Mason General Hospital; Morton General Hospital; Providence Centralia Hospital and Willapa Harbor Hospital

“The telestroke project is a powerful example of how collaboration among hospitals can truly benefit residents of all our communities,” said Bob Appel, CEO, Mason General Hospital. “The technology will allow physicians to work together to make a joint diagnosis and expedite care for the patient. This is especially critical with stroke treatment, when saving minutes can significantly affect a person’s outcome.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media contact: Erin Schwantner
(360) 493-7247, erin.schwantner@providence.org