Mission Health receives Duke  grant to expand  Telehealth program

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (July 22, 2014) – The Mission Center for Telehealth has received a two-year grant of more than $700,000 from The Duke Endowment to make comprehensive healthcare for children in rural communities more convenient and accessible by expanding the Health-e-Schools program, a collaborative telemedicine effort with The Center for Rural Health Innovation (CRHI).
Telehealth is the method of providing health care, health information, and health education across a distance. Using secure telecommunications technology physicians, nurses, and health care specialists can assess, diagnose and treat patients without requiring them to be physically present in the same location.  In the Health-e-Schools program, a student or faculty member joined by a school nurse is connected to a healthcare provider at another location. School based telehealth provides access to acute care visits, primary care visits, and specialty visits.  The collaborative approach between the Center for Rural Health Innovation and Mission Children’s Hospital allows patients to access providers with both organizations.
“School-based centers have been proven to also improve academic outcomes by increasing attendance, grade point averages and high school graduation rates. In our communities, it can be difficult for working parents to ensure their children receive preventative healthcare or follow-up care, leading to missed days of school and higher use of hospital emergency departments,” said Steve North, MD, MPH Outpatient Medical Director at the Mission Center for Telehealth and Founder and Medical Director of The Center for Rural Health Innovation. “Telehealth is emerging as the preferred solution to improve access to care and improve health outcomes, especially in rural communities.”
The Health-e-Schools program helps bring exceptional care to young patients by increasing classroom attendance for students and decreasing time away from work for the parent or student caregiver.  With this grant, the program will increase access in public schools, further improving comprehensive health outcomes and academic outcomes and decreasing overall health expenditures. Mission Children’s Hospital and the Mission Center for Telehealth have been collaborating with the CRHI to provide pediatric cardiac care through its primary program, MY Health-e-Schools, since early 2014.
“This Duke Endowment grant will assist Mission Health in providing the best evidence-based care to patients regardless of where they may be located.  It will help assure improved care, cost savings and convenience for patients,” said Bryan T. Arkwright, MHA, Director of the Mission Center for Telehealth.  “The expansion of the Health-e-Schools program will help bring exceptional care to some of our most vulnerable, our children.”
The Duke Endowment grant is to be disbursed in two installments, $401,207 in 2014 and $300,000 in 2015.  The MY Health-e-Schools established by the CRHI is currently available to approximately 4,000 school-age students in rural school districts in Mitchell and Yancey counties.   By 2016, this endowment will allow the MY Health-e-Schools program to be available in at least 12 new public schools in another two rural school districts, reaching a potential 5,000 additional school-aged children.  The first district targeted for implementation is McDowell County Schools.
About Mission Health
Mission Health, based in Asheville, North Carolina, is the state’s sixth-largest health system and the region’s only not-for-profit, independent community hospital system governed and managed exclusively in western North Carolina. Mission Health has been recognized as one of the nation’s Top 15 Health Systems 2012-2014 by Truven Health Analytics, formerly Thomson Reuters. Mission Health is the only medium-sized health system to receive this recognition three years in a row, and the only health system in North Carolina to achieve that distinction.
Mission Health, which traces its roots in the region back to 1885, operates six hospitals, numerous outpatient and surgery centers, post-acute care provider CarePartners, and the region’s only dedicated Level II trauma center. Its medical staff consists of more than 1,000 physicians and is certified in more than 50 medical specialties and sub-specialties. Mission Health has seven Centers of Excellence: Cancer, Heart, Mission Children’s Hospital, Neurosciences, Orthopedics, Trauma and Women’s Health. Mission Hospital, located in Asheville, is the system’s flagship hospital and is licensed for 795 beds. It is the regional referral center for tertiary and quaternary care. It also includes Mission Children’s Hospital – the region’s only children’s hospital. Other Mission Health member hospitals include Angel Medical Center in Franklin, Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in Spruce Pine, Highlands-Cashiers Hospital in Highlands, McDowell Hospital in Marion and Transylvania Regional Hospital in Brevard. With approximately 10,600 employees and 2,000 volunteers, Mission Health is dedicated to improving the health and wellness of the people of western North Carolina. For more information, please visit mission-health.org or@MissionHealthNC.
About The Center for Rural Health Innovation and MY Health-e-Schools
The Center for Rural Health Innovation (CRHI) is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit. The overall mission of the organization is to apply innovative technologies to improve access to healthcare in rural communities.  The CRHI is the parent organization for MY Health-e-Schools, which has been providing school-based telemedicine in Mitchell and Yancey counties since September 2011 and currently provides access to school-based healthcare for over 4,000 students and staff members at 14 schools.  In May, 2014 CRHI received the American Telemedicine Association’s President’s Institutional Award for Health Delivery, Quality and Innovation for the MY Health-e-Schools network. For more information, visit http://www.crhi.org/.
About The Duke Endowment
Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, and established in 1924 by industrialist and philanthropist James B. Duke, The Duke Endowment is a private foundation that strengthens communities in North Carolina and South Carolina by nurturing children, promoting health, educating minds and enriching spirits.  Since its founding, it has distributed more than $3 billion in grants.  The Duke Endowment shares a name with Duke University and Duke Energy, but all are separate organizations.

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