PRH Foundation Awarded Telespeech Therapy USDA Grant for Children and Schools

Apr 14, 2014

PULLMAN, WA—Pullman Regional Hospital Foundation has been awarded a $280,468 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development Program for Distance Learning and Telemedicine. This is the first federal grant of this magnitude that Pullman Regional Hospital Foundation has received. As the grant facilitator, this marks significant progress for Pullman Regional Hospital toward its Community Health 2020 and Healthcare Innovation initiatives. These initiatives include a focus on delivering care through Telemedicine.

Telemedicine is the delivery of care – consultation, diagnosis, or treatment – via real-time video/audio communications between a patient and a provider. It is increasingly being used as a form of care delivery in rural settings where specialty care may be limited.

Pullman Regional Hospital will partner with GemIIni Systems based in Spokane to deliver consultation, diagnosis and treatment via real-time video/audio communications over the Internet. The GemIIni online program can either be customized or users can follow a prescribed curriculum. The GemIIni video modeling system is a tool to assist the teaching of speech, language and reading through the Internet on a unique, customizable platform.

Scott Adams, CEO of Pullman Regional Hospital, said, “The recently established Center for Learning and Innovation by Pullman Regional has implemented Telemedicine technology to provide the community access to care regardless of distance. Telemedicine is a key priority, and this grant will enable our hospital to fulfill the region’s need for speech therapy services.”

Pullman Regional Hospital is also partnering with the Pullman School District to provide speech and language therapy via Telemedicine to children who qualify for these services. The Telespeech Therapy for Children and Schools project will initially serve children in the Pullman school district. Pullman Regional Hospital will be reaching out to seven area rural school districts in three different counties including Endicott, Garfield, Palouse, Pomeroy, Rosalia, Tekoa, and Washtucna to participate during the three year grant period.

The project is expected to provide therapeutic services for at least 120 rural and underserved students per year and ultimately serve an estimated 850 students with these needs each year. Small rural schools often struggle to provide adequate services for children with speech and language problems and some are simply unable to do so due to financial constraints and the unavailability of speech and language therapists.
Additionally, Telespeech delivery will eliminate travel time by therapists who would normally drive to rural schools. Now money typically paid for travel by therapists can be directly used to increase speech and language services to children.

Pullman Regional Hospital recently began a pilot Telemedicine program using the GemIIni System for speech and language therapy with students in the Pullman School District.

“The telemedicine pilot for speech and language therapy shows promise to provide additional speech and language services for eligible students, especially in rural areas where an on-site provider is not feasible,” said Pullman School District Superintendent Paul Sturm. “In addition, the program can enhance speech and language therapist collaboration to potentially enhance professional practices and has the potential to expand delivery of services for all children who have a need. “

“With the USDA award, new Telemedicine equipment can be purchased, and more students throughout the region can receive equally effective high-quality speech therapy services,” said Carrie Coen, director of Pullman Regional Hospital Summit Therapy & Health Services which provides speech and language therapy.

“The GemIIni System is designed to provide much needed therapy to children through the use of the Internet in their homes in real time,” said GemIIni Founder Laura Kasbar. “We are thrilled to partner with Pullman Regional Hospital in this very important work. There is a significant shortage of therapists in the country to deal with the mounting problem of delayed language skills among our youth. GemIIni through Telemedicine could be that solution.”

“We are honored to receive this award from the USDA and look forward to working with GemIIni, Pullman schools and schools throughout the region to use telemedicine to address a regional shortage of speech and language needs for children in the area,” said Adams.

Contact: Alison Weigley, Community Relations Coordinator
Pullman Regional Hospital

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