During a trip to Portland, USDA Rural Utilities Service Administrator Jonathan Adelstein visited Providence St. Vincent Medical Center to see firsthand how lifesaving Telestroke technology can help save the lives of stroke sufferers in remote rural areas. A $253,000 USDA Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) program grant recently allowed Providence Health & Services to begin the work to connect five rural critical access hospitals in eastern and central Oregon to the Providence Telestroke Network.
“The DLT program delivers medical and educational opportunities that are urgently needed in remote, rural areas,” Adelstein said.
Providence Health & Services used the USDA’s Rural Development grant to fund Telestroke technology at Wallowa Hospital in Enterprise; Pioneer Memorial Hospital in Heppner; and Lake District Hospital in Lakeview.
Two other rural hospitals in Oregon are seeking USDA funding to implement telestroke technology. Distance learning and telemedicine programs are already in place in more than 5,700 schools and medical facilities across the nation.
To demonstrate the network, Portland-based neurologists activated Oscar, the Telestroke robot at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, to immediately connect to the new telestroke robot at Wallowa Memorial. With the use of two-way cameras and a secure internet connection, the robot demonstrated how physicians conduct an examination and interact with a stroke patient, family members and clinicians hundreds of miles away to determine quickly the best course of treatment.
Providence Telestroke Network is currently connected to 16 community hospitals across Oregon and Washington.