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We continue to support our healthcare users with our participation as a common carrier for the Universal Service Fund (USF) program. During the COVID-19 pandemic, ICN provided 12 hospitals with bandwidth increases at no charge. Half of the hospitals have recognized the added value and decided to permanently increase their Internet bandwidth.
Since April, the Federal Communications Commission’s Wireline Competition Bureau has approved funding applications for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program. Health care providers in both urban and rural areas of the country will use this funding to provide telehealth services during the coronavirus pandemic. Since the beginning of the FCC’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program, the agency has approved 539 funding applications in 47 states plus Washington, D.C. and Guam for a total of $200 million in funding—the amount of money provided by Congress in the CARES Act.
List of Iowa health care providers that were awarded funding:
Mercy Medical Center, in Des Moines, Iowa, was awarded $945,590 for laptop computers, tablets, videoconferencing equipment and software, telemedicine carts, and remote monitoring and diagnostic equipment to provide critical connected care services in multiple Central Iowa hospitals, including small rural hospitals, and in over 50 primary care, cardiology and behavioral health clinics.
Avera Health, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, was awarded $672,879 for tablet computers, telehealth equipment and a platform license, telemedicine carts, and remote monitoring equipment and software to provide care for COVID-19 and other chronically ill patients in their homes and in hospitals or clinics throughout 85 rural counties in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota, and to 14 federally-recognized Tribal governments and independent Tribal communities.
Plains Area Mental Health Center, in Carroll, Iowa, was awarded $107,180 for laptop computers and tablets so health care providers can continue to serve patients in rural areas to minimize disruption to care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hawarden Regional Healthcare, in Hawarden, Iowa, was awarded $14,356 for telemedicine carts, laptop computers, tablets, and videoconferencing equipment for health care providers to use for telehealth visits to help evaluate and treat patients, and to offer devices for acute/inpatient patients to use to keep in contact with family and friends while in the hospital.
Mahaska County Hospital, in Oskaloosa, Iowa, was awarded $68,620 for laptop computers and telehealth conferencing equipment to increase telehealth capacity and connect more health care providers and other healthcare professionals with patients and to support virtual meetings with patient families.
University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, in Iowa City, Iowa, was awarded $266,944 for telehealth software licenses, tablets, network upgrades, and remote monitoring equipment to screen virtually patients who have COVID-19 symptoms prior to an in-person encounter, to manage COVID-19 positive patients remotely to decrease unnecessary inpatient admissions, and to perform virtual outpatient visits for patients at higher risk for COVID-19 to minimize the need to travel and face exposure to other patients and health care workers.
Clarke County Hospital, in Osceola, Iowa, was awarded $170,072 for tablet computers, network upgrades, and remote monitoring equipment to offer telehealth from home for potential COVID-19 patients and to provide telehealth video units in patient and exam rooms to minimize provider-patient contact and preserve personal protective equipment.
Community Health Care, in Davenport, Iowa, was awarded $799,305 for computers, laptops, telemedicine carts, remote diagnostic and monitoring equipment, and a telehealth platform to safely test for COVID-19 and, because many COVID-19 patients also have underlying health conditions, to act as the primary care provider for those patients needing routine follow up and chronic disease management.
Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minnesota, was awarded $1,000,000 to implement video telehealth services and remote patient monitoring across its Midwest presence of over 50 communities in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, to minimize exposure and slow further spread of the COVID-19 virus while maintaining patient care and monitoring standards.