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February 27, 2013

Helping southside Virginia patients access specialty care

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To make it easier for residents of Southside Virginia and other rural localities to receive specialty care not readily available locally, a new state grant will help patients and healthcare workers access specialists through telemedicine.

A $270,000 grant from the Virginia Health Workforce Development Initiative will establish the Southside Telehealth Training Academy and Resource Center (STAR) in Martinsville , which will be operated by New College Institute and the University of Virginia Center for Telehealth at UVA Health System.

“Training healthcare workers to use telehealth and patient monitoring technologies will aid them in providing high-quality care and service to their patients,” said Karen Rheuban, MD, director of the UVA Center for Telehealth.

Beginning in late spring, the center will begin training healthcare workers in the West Piedmont Health District of Martinsville and the counties of Franklin, Henry and Patrick – as well as healthcare workers across Virginia – in the use of telemedicine technology. Over the program’s first 18 months, STAR plans to train 250 healthcare workers.

“This center has the potential to not only make it easier for patients in Southside Virginia to access the healthcare they need, but also to give our residents valuable job skills,” said William Wampler, executive director of New College Institute.

Each year, telemedicine uses secure video links to help thousands of Virginians access specialty care not available in their home communities. For instance, UVA’s network of more than 85 telemedicine locations enables thousands of Virginians each year to access UVA physicians in more than 40 specialties without traveling to Charlottesville.

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