VERMILLION, S.D. — Representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture toured the University of South Dakota Wednesday and discussed a project that will strengthen health care services in 24 rural South Dakota communities and give medical school and nursing students firsthand experience in rural practice and telemedicine.
Telemedicine allows health care professionals to treat patients through the exchange of medical information over two-way video, email, smartphones, wireless tools and other forms of electronic communications.
USD’s project, called “A Bridge to the Frontier: Preparing South Dakota’s Future Doctors and Nurses for Rural Practice," creates new telemedicine connections that link health education hubs at the USD campuses in Vermillion, Pierre, Rapid City and Sioux Falls with 24 rural hospitals and clinics throughout South Dakota. It was made possible by a $499,897 grant from USDA and $376,000 in matching funds from USD.
“The funds will allow us to build a telehealth video network linking the university’s resources and educators to health care professionals and students across the state,” said Cheryl Tiahrt, deputy chief information officer at USD.
The immediate benefit for rural areas will be opportunities for existing health care professionals to stay current on the latest best practices over the telemedicine network through USD simulation centers. The three-year program will also help about 675 medical school and nursing students become more comfortable working in a rural environment, which increases the likelihood they return to those areas to fill the need for rural health care.
USD’s award was the second-largest of 75 grants in 31 states from a total of $23.4 million provided by the USDA Rural Development’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine program.
The following South Dakota hospitals and clinics will be recipients or end users of the telemedicine connections, also shown in Google Maps:
- Avera Medical Group, Milbank
- Spearfish Regional Hospital
- Avera Dells Area Hospital
- Mobridge Regional Hospitals and Clinics
- Winner Regional Healthcare Center and Winner Regional Clinic
- Coteau Des Prairie Hospital and Clinic, Sisseton
- Sanford Chamberlain Medical Center
- Community Memorial Hospital, Redfield
- Avera Medical Group Flandreau
- Custer Regional Medical Clinic
- Sanford Webster Medical Center
- Avera St. Benedict Health Center, Parkston
- Avera Hand County Memorial Hospital, Miller
- Avera Gregory Hospital
- Freeman Regional Health Services
- Platte Health Center Avera
- St. Michaels’ Hospital Avera, Tyndall
- Avera Weskota Memorial Hospital, Wessington Springs
- Landmann-Jungman Clinic, Scotland
- Viborg Medical Clinic (Pioneer Health Services)
- Philip Health Services
- Faulkton Area Medical Center
- Douglas County Memorial Hospital, Armour
- Pioneer Memorial Hospital, Viborg