“Telemedicine makes it easier for people in rural areas to access health care, and we are thrilled to receive this grant and begin this project,” said Michael Burcham, vice president of Physician Practices at Lake Regional.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded Lake Regional Health System a $443,417 grant to establish the Lake Regional Mid-Missouri Telemedicine Program. This project will bring medical teleconferencing equipment to 12 facilities in five rural mid-Missouri counties.

“Telemedicine makes it easier for people in rural areas to access health care, and we are thrilled to receive this grant and begin this project,” said Michael Burcham, vice president of Physician Practices at Lake Regional. “The goal is to improve primary care access and connect more people in our area with such specialty services as heart care and sleep medicine.”

The project includes 11 Lake Regional-owned and -leased rural clinics providing primary care services to residents in Camden, Miller, Morgan, Laclede and Pulaski counties. It also includes one partnering site. Lake Regional Health System will serve as the hub site, or the location with the physician providing the telemedicine. It also will serve as an end-user site, where patients go for telemedicine access.

The other 11 locations in the project will serve as end-user sites. These include Lake Regional clinics in Eldon, Lake Ozark, Osage Beach, Iberia, Laurie, Camdenton, Macks Creek and Lebanon; Lake Regional outreach sites at Central Ozarks Medical Center in Richland and Prairie Hills Clinic in Versailles; and one partnering site, the Medical Missions for Christ Clinic, a free clinic in Camdenton.

Grant funds will be used to purchase audio, visual and technical medical equipment for providing end-user diagnostic capabilities. These diagnostic tools will be integrated with the computer equipment in the network. The equipment also will be used for provider education and training.

The USDA awarded the grant through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program. The program funds telecommunications technologies to connect rural communities to each other and to the world, using broadband service to provide access to job training and educational and health care services for those who live and work in rural areas. The program also will enable the use of behavioral and other counseling services, including opioid misuse treatment.

Jeff Case, USDA Rural Development state director for Missouri, announced Lake Regional’s grant along with three others on Oct. 31. Altogether, the four grants total more than $1.4 million.

“Quality access to health care can often be a challenge in small, rural communities but is a necessity for those communities to thrive and grow,” Case said. “One solution is utilizing telecommunications technologies to provide these services. The projects announced today are doing just that and will provide over 150,000 rural Missourians with essential medical access.”

Lake Regional Health System provides comprehensive health care services to residents and visitors throughout the mid-Missouri region. The hospital is a Level II Stroke Center, Level II STEMI (heart attack) Center and Level III Trauma Center. Lake Regional also provides a wide range of specialties, including cancer care, heart care, orthopedics and women’s health. Plus, Lake Regional operates primary care clinics, Express Care clinics, rehab therapy clinics, programs for home health and hospice, and retail pharmacies. To learn more, visit www.lakeregional.com.