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USDA Awards $1.5 Million to Expand Access to High-Quality Critical Care in Rural Communities
Date:11/11/2008

eICU(R) Programs Close Critical Care Coverage Gap

WASHINGTON, Nov. 11, 2008 /PRNewswire/ -- The healthcare crisis that has been at the forefront of the recent political campaigns is often most prevalent in the many rural and remote areas of the country. The government recently took steps to alleviate the problem of critical care access for rural Nebraska and Iowa residents -- a problem that is being exacerbated by growing physician and nurse shortages. In total, the USDA has awarded more than $1.5 million in Rural Utility Service (RUS) grants to hospitals around the country to fund expansion of eICU critical care services to rural communities. This has helped to reduce the cost burden for rural communities to bring critical care expertise and a greater sense of security to critically ill patients and their families.

Last month, Alegent Health in Omaha, Nebraska received a grant to expand critical care services to its rural regional hospitals. Congressman Lee Terry, joined the USDA, in presenting the award to Alegent Health eICU personnel and rural hospital administrators on Friday, October 24, 2008. "Health care providers and patients in rural areas face obstacles that those in urban areas do not," said Terry. "The funds will go a long way in providing needed healthcare to many rural Nebraskans. This grant represents the dedication that USDA Rural Development and Alegent Health have to healthcare; and doctors and patients are better off because of it." Congressman Terry serves on the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunications.

The telemedicine grants are only one component of a significant rural development initiative that will bring expert healthcare services to six critical access hospitals in rural Nebraska and Iowa. Other hospitals in Maine, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Iowa have also received grants for implementation of eICU Programs through Maine Health and Avera Health.

USDA Rural Development
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