October 1, 2020
St. Peter's Health Foundation has been awarded a $300,000 grant ($1.2 million over a four-year period) to implement Tele-Emergency Medical Services (EMS) that utilize telemedicine technology to connect the St. Peter's Health Emergency Department with St. Peter's Health ambulances and rural fire and EMS organizations throughout the community. Having reliable, two-way and secure audio/visual communication between healthcare emergency responders in the field and the St. Peter's Health Emergency Department will enhance the ability of first responders to provide timely, potentially life-saving care before a patient reaches the hospital.
The St. Peter's Health ambulance team serves a large part of Lewis and Clark County and provides emergency medical services to a mostly rural 3,000+ square mile area. "Our ambulance team responds to emergencies from McDonald Pass to Wolf Creek. There can be spotty cellular network coverage, which currently impacts our ability to communicate when in the field," said St. Peter's Health Ambulance Manager David Webster. "This new technology will allow us to directly communicate with our emergency room providers, regardless of cellular network coverage. We will also be able to share vital signs and images in real-time with the emergency department team to elevate the level of care we can provide in the field and during transport."
St. Peter's Health Foundation was one of 30 organizations across 23 states awarded funding for the Telehealth Network Grant Program from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The St. Peter's Health grant application also includes nine memorandums of understanding (MOU) from area volunteer fire and EMS organizations. After adding the technology to the St. Peter's Health Emergency Department and two St. Peter's Health ambulances, the local healthcare organization will partner with local response agencies, outfitting their rigs and training their mostly volunteer response teams.
Tele-EMS is part of the organization's growing telehealth infrastructure and part of the local health care system's goal to deliver the highest quality of care close to home. “Projects like this help us harness the power of technology to bring the very best in healthcare to our community,” said St. Peter’s Health Chief Medical Innovation Officer Dr. Jon Griffin.