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Department of Agriculture Awards Telemedicine Grant to Lake Chelan?s Hospital 2/7/2011
Lake Chelan Community Hospital (LCCH) is home to one of 106 projects recently funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant program. This program funds projects to provide education and expand access to healthcare services in rural areas. The hospital, along with its partners, will receive $487,000 to upgrade and expand their telemedicine network to improve access and bring new healthcare services to the rural communities they serve.

As the coordinating facility in the North Central Washington Health Collaborative (NCWHC), LCCH?s award will fund a new ultrasound machine, additional computerized radiology equipment and telepharmacy equipment for the hospital?s childbirth and surgical center departments.

The new ultrasound machine gives LCCH the ability to offer echocardiography services. Patients can have their exams done in Chelan, and results are digitally sent to Wenatchee, where cardiologists interpret them. Other exams are also transferred to specialists like vascular surgeons, urologists and obstetricians through the hospital?s telemedicine network, making it possible for community members to receive more of their diagnostics close to home.

During the last several years, LCCH has adopted a strong telemedicine foundation, including collaborative projects like telepharmacy, teleradiology, telestroke and telehealth education. In 2010, the hospital was recognized as one of the nation?s MOST WIRED?SMALL AND RURAL hospitals, one of 25 in the nation, according to the results of the 2010 Most Wired Survey released in the July issue of Hospitals & Health Networks magazine, the journal of the American Hospital Association.

?As a small public hospital, we are leading the curve in technology,? said Ross Hurd, LCCH CIO, ?and we?ve been able to do it very cost-effectively by partnering with other rural public hospitals to share resources??

The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture?s Rural Utilities Services Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program. Members of the NCWHC include LCCH and hospitals in Leavenworth, Brewster, Omak, Quincy and Goldendale.

?Partnering with other North Central Washington hospitals was critical to winning this grant and improving care in the region,? said Kevin Abel, CEO, who explained that collaboration with other healthcare facilities is key to small, rural hospitals like Lake Chelan?s, allowing them to offer crucial, life-saving medical services to the communities they serve.