WEST VIRGINIA (WOAY) – U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $1,200,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to West Virginia University (WVU). This funding will help WVU support critical access hospitals by providing acute telehealth services including neurology, behavioral medicine, and case management services in emergency departments in Ripley, Gassaway, Buckhannon, and Summersville over the next four years.
“Telehealth is an essential part of our efforts to increase access to medical services, especially in more rural states where specific levels of care are often miles away,” said Senator Capito. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen how efficient and effective telehealth can be, which is why I have been a leading advocate to extend robust telehealth programs during the pandemic and will continue to do so after. WVU has been a leading force in the expansion of telehealth service in West Virginia, and they continue to lay the foundation for a broader telehealth network in the future. I am incredibly encouraged by this funding and WVU’s plans to bring specialty services to rural emergency departments and critical access hospitals across our state.”
“Access to telehealth services has become essential to providing West Virginians with healthcare during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. For many, telehealth services provide a lifeline and I’m pleased that WVU has received this funding to support their efforts to provide West Virginians with access to telemedicine services. I will continue fighting to ensure our patients and healthcare providers receive the help they need to get the healthcare every West Virginian deserves during this public health crisis and long after,” said Senator Manchin.
“Telemedicine offers the opportunity to provide acute, emergent subspecialty care in rural emergency departments. While rural communities can access subspecialty care through outreach clinics and scheduled appointments, this does not solve the problem of the lack of specialty care in the acute setting. Rural communities are a wonderful part of fabric of West Virginia and should be supported however they do not have the population density to recruit subspecialty providers. We hope to bridge the coverage gap with telemedicine. By linking rural emergency medicine providers with specialists in real time, we can create care plans to keep emergency department patients in their home communities when able and more efficiently identify and treat patients whose needs require transfer for a higher level of care,” said Dr. Scott Findley, WVU Rural Emergency Medicine Institute Director.