receive USDA grant
St. Mary’s Hospital and Clearwater Valley Hospital will be sharing a half million dollar award from the Rural Utilities Service of the USDA. SMHC will administer the Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant.
The funds will be used to help purchase a Meditech software system and hardware components for the hospitals and their seven medical and three Physical Therapy clinics. The system will enable the facilities to move towards creating and sharing electronic medical records for their patients. It will allow providers to access patient information immediately, regardless of location.
Electronic medical records enhance patient safety by standardizing patient records, alerting physicians to allergies and drug contraindications and providing faster access to lab results.
“Eventually, everyone’s medical records will be created and stored electronically so they can be instantaneously retrieved regardless of where the patient or provider is located,” said Casey Meza, CVHC/SMHC CEO. “We’ve been incorporating computer technology into as many of our processes as possible over the past years, but this grant will help us finance our next step. The most important reason to use information systems is to improve the safety, efficiency and convenience of the medical care we provide, but there are a number of other reasons, as well. Storage of paper medical records for our current and past clients creates huge space and resource issues.”
According to Meza, the partnership of the two hospitals continually reduces overhead. The software company is providing one system for the two facilities and their satellite clinics. “As two separate facilities, we would each have to purchase the system, but because we are partners we are able to essentially cut our costs in half.”
“Our grant was the only one in Idaho to be funded by this particular USDA program. We also received the largest award possible from the Rural Utilities Service. I believe they were impressed by the regional healthcare system we have established in this area,” said Pam McBride, CVHC/SMHC Grant Writer. “Their goal is to promote the use of Telemedicine in frontier areas so rural residents will have the same high quality healthcare as people who live in urban areas.”
According to McBride, the grant requires a $400,000 match of non-federal monies. “Those matching monies come from community donations and both hospital Foundations’ fundraising efforts. We had to provide evidence of strong community support to qualify for the grant,” said McBride. “We are very fortunate to have individuals and businesses that use our services and generously contribute to our programs.”