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Ministry Health Care Earns USDA Rural Health Grant
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 10/26/2016

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that USDA is investing in 18 projects in 16 states to use communications technology to expand access to health care, substance misuse treatment and advanced educational opportunities. One of the recipients include the Wisconsin-based Ministry Health Care, which is receiving a $432,000 grant to expand its Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioners telemedicine program to clinics across Clark, Forest, Lincoln, Marathon, Portage, Vilas, and Waupaca counties.

"These investments will help provide better health care and educational opportunities for rural residents," Vilsack said. "Hospitals, schools and training centers across the country are successfully using telecommunications to deliver quality educational and medical services. Telemedicine, for example, can help treat patients who are struggling with opioid and other substance use disorders that disproportionately affect rural areas by allowing rural hospitals to connect with resources in other health care facilities across the country to better diagnose and treat individuals."

Due to a shortage of Family Practice and General Internal Medicine physicians in the rural hospitals and clinic sites, this telemedicine project will allow APNPs in rural areas to communicate directly with physicians in other areas who will consult on cases and provide direction when needed. This telemedicine project will support one hub and 15 end-user sites.

As the program evolves over the next three years, Ministry Health Care envisions being able to add therapeutic services; such as dietary and diabetic counseling, tele-psychiatry, post-hospitalization, post-surgical follow-up and cardiac stress testing. This project will allow these rural clinics and hospitals secure additional staffing where normally a loss of a single provider could result in the closure of a clinic.

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