Photo: Lillian Ray smiles as she uses an iPad to connect with husband, Henry during her stay at Mahaska Health
May 1, 2020
Mahaska Health, in partnership with Mahaska County was recently awarded a $49,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) through the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA).
The IEDA designated $2.4 million in grant funds to support infectious disease response. Funds were available to most cities and counties in Iowa, with funds to be sub-granted to nonprofit organizations to carry out the activity.
“After seeing all that Mahaska Health was doing to protect the community, we were happy to see this opportunity become available and got in touch right away to start working on an application,” said Mahaska County Economic Development Director, Tom Flaherty.
Mahaska Health CEO, Kevin DeRonde says the grant offered a great opportunity for partnership with Mahaska County. “Our goal in applying for funding was to help accommodate the patients in our community,” he explained. “We had already begun offering telehealth services through our primary care clinic and allergy providers. Patient response to these services was very positive and the grant has allowed us to expand them further, to bolster telehealth, and assist more patients in accessing healthcare remotely.”
Grant funds purchased 20 iPads and 30 laptops to support communication during inpatient stays, remote work for Mahaska Health employees, and telehealth services.
Five iPads were designated for use patients hospitalized at Mahaska Health to communicate with their families. Current visitor restrictions limit the number of family members or friends that can come see a patient at the hospital. Inpatient Director, Joy Patch shared that the new technology offers patients the ability to see and connect with their loved ones safely, despite restrictions. “The grant has allowed us to help patients communicate with their support systems during their stay, which is such a huge part of recovery,” she said. “Those little moments mean so much.”
30 laptops were purchased through the grant to offer off-campus work options for our employees. “We have many non-clinical employees who are vital to our operations,” shared DeRonde. “We are now able to offer remote work options to those team members at a time when people are being encouraged to stay home.”
The remaining iPads are being used to offer patients remote healthcare options for some primary care, allergy, orthopaedics, and pediatric care. According to Mahaska Health Clinic Director, Amy Fernandez, the original anticipated audience for telehealth was patients with chronic illness and high-risk individuals, but the care team has seen patients of all demographics using telehealth services.
“The response to telehealth has been wonderful,” said Fernandez. “Our providers are excited to maintain relationships and provide care for patients who prefer to stay home at this time. Patients love the convenience of being seen from home, and for those with transportation or mobility issues, it makes care more accessible.”
For patients who may not have access to a smartphone or computer with video and audio capabilities, Mahaska Health goes the extra mile to provide additional options. “For those interested in telehealth without the appropriate technology, we have iPads available for use,” shared Fernandez. “We can arrange for patients to be seen from their vehicle in our parking lot, with assistance from a member of our care team.”
The primary goal of telehealth is increased accessibility to healthcare, and according to Fernandez, convenience is key. “We want to make it as simple and accessible as possible for the people in our community to receive care. We are so grateful to the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors for their support in helping us to get this grant and expand these services,” she shared.
While there are appointments that require patients to come to the hospital (i.e. OB checks, immunizations, etc.), expanded telehealth services offer remote appointments for a wide variety of acute and chronic conditions.
Patients interested in telehealth services are encouraged to reach out to their provider at 641.672.3360 for more information.