MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Dr. Scott Findley, a WVU Medicine assistant professor and director of the Rural Emergency Medicine Institute, has obtained a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
According to a WVU press release, the HRSA funds will help the university support critical access hospitals by providing acute telehealth services, including neurology, behavioral medicine, and case management services in emergency departments across the state. These departments will be located in Ripley, Gassaway, Buckhannon, and Summerville over the next four years.
Telemedicine offers the opportunity to provide acute, emergent subspecialty care in rural emergency departments. While rural communities can access subspecialty care through outreach clinics and scheduled appointments, this does not solve the problem of the lack of specialty care in the acute setting. Rural communities are a wonderful part of the fabric of West Virginia and should be supported however they do not have the population density to recruit subspecialty providers. We hope to bridge the coverage gap with telemedicine. By linking rural EM providers with specialists in real-time, we can create care plans to keep ED patients in their home communities when able and more efficiently identify and treat patients whose needs require transfer for a higher level of care.Dr. Scott Findley
The announcement of the HHS funds was delivered by West Virginia U.S. Senators Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), both members of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
“Telehealth is an essential part of our efforts to increase access to medical services, especially in more rural states where specific levels of care are often miles away,” Capito said in the release. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen how efficient and effective telehealth can be, which is why I have been a leading advocate to extend robust telehealth programs during the pandemic and will continue to do so after. WVU has been a leading force in the expansion of telehealth service in West Virginia, and they continue to lay the foundation for a broader telehealth network in the future. I am incredibly encouraged by this funding and WVU’s plans to bring specialty services to rural emergency departments and critical access hospitals across our state.”
Sen. Manchin also touted the efficacy of telehealth and reiterated the importance of the funding to the state.
“Access to telehealth services has become essential to providing West Virginians with healthcare during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” Manchin said. “For many, telehealth services provide a lifeline and I’m pleased that WVU has received this funding to support their efforts to provide West Virginians with access to telemedicine services. I will continue fighting to ensure our patients and healthcare providers receive the help they need to get the healthcare every West Virginian deserves during this public health crisis and long after.”