Two Wisconsin nursing centers now have access to telehealth technologies thanks to a federal grant to the Marshfield Clinic Health System.

The Health Resources and Services Administration grant is supporting installation of telehealth technologies, which allow for care to be provided through digital means over great distances. Through telehealth, a physician miles away in a big city could analyse readings for a patient in a rural community.

Bethel Center in Arpin and Colonial Center in Colby both serve those in rural areas, where weather can make it difficult to travel to care facilities.

“When our patients are discharged from a hospital to the skilled nursing facilities, we want to make sure they don’t need to be readmitted soon after,” said Chris Meyer, director of Marshfield Clinic Virtual Health. “Telehealth is a way to provide continuity of care and make sure that their chronic illness doesn’t require another hospital visit and reduces the inconvenience and cost associated with travel.”

Both nursing centers now allow patients to consult with doctors specializing in heart failure, dermatology, sleep medicine and more.

“Telemedicine is the wave of the future,” said Trudy Erickson, executive director at Colonial Center.

The grant, which came into effect September 2016, provides $300,000 a year for four years to expand telehealth. The expansions at Bethel and Colonial started in January, and both facilities were up and running by March 1.

“We’ll continue to expand our telehealth services, using the grant to find ways to bring high-quality specialty care to rural areas that otherwise wouldn’t have access,” said John Gardner, communications director for Marshfield Clinic.

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