Inside INdiana Business

FCC awards $5M for Hoosier telehealth improvements

Decatur County Memorial Hospital is located in Greensburg. (photo provided)

GREENSBURG, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A dozen hospitals and health care clinics in Indiana have received a portion of $200 million in federal funding to help implement or improve telehealth services during the coronavirus pandemic.

To date, both urban and rural Hoosier health care providers have received approximately $5 million to be used in a variety of ways, including laptop computers, hotspots, videoconferencing software, and network upgrades.

The Federal Communications Commission is distributing the money through its COVID-19 Telehealth Program to help health care providers connect services to patients at their homes or mobile locations.

“In late March, Congress tasked the FCC with developing from scratch a new $200 million COVID-19 Telehealth Program to help combat COVID-19, support health care providers, and make it easier for Americans to safely access vital health care services,” says FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

Decatur County Memorial Hospital in Greensburg, Indiana was awarded nearly $700,000 from the FCC program.

“The network upgrades to our infrastructure will not only afford our community the ability to access medical care via the Internet and telehealth but also provide benefits for eLearning opportunities,” says Rex McKinney, president and chief executive officer of DCMH.

McKinney says the community embraced COVID-19 testing early in the pandemic. As a result, Decatur County had the highest positive rate of the disease per capita in the state.

“During the midst of that challenge, this FCC grant came out and we thought it would be a great thing for our community to pursue additional technology related to telehealth,” said McKinney.

Like many in the health care sector, especially in rural areas, telehealth was not widely used at DCMH prior to the pandemic.

“Access to telehealth means access to broadband, which is often limited in rural communities,” says McKinney.

He said the hospital is working collaboratively with the economic development officials to expand access to broadband in underserved parts of the county.

“We’re just trying to enhance that access to care to ensure that our community has great resources from a health and wellness standpoint. We just really feel the grant will help,” says McKinney.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Decatur County Memorial Hospital CEO Rex McKinney says there are multiple applications for telehealth in rural Indiana.

Below is a list of Indiana health care providers that were approved for funding:

10th Street Clinic, Richmond, IN; $152,931
Community Mental Health Center, Lawrenceburg, IN; $65,142
Decatur County Memorial Hospital, Greensburg, Indiana; $698,603
Cummins Behavioral Health System, in Avon, IN; awarded $226,016
Hancock Regional Hospital, Greenfield, IN; $409,984
Parkview Hospital, Fort Wayne; $891,276
Community Hospital North, Indianapolis; $872,363
Meridian Health Services, Muncie; $240,669
Purdue University Fort Wayne Community Counseling Center, Fort Wayne; $34,982
Franciscan Health Indianapolis, Indianapolis; $929,834
Windrose Health Network, Greenwood; $223,720
Greene County General Hospital, Linton, IN; $60,480