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UAMS Medical Center
Grant Allows UAMS Link With Lee County Schools, Homes
Diabetic, Asthmatic Children to Receive Help Managing Diseases
LITTLE ROCK – The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) has received a $748,000 federal grant that links doctors at UAMS with two Lee County schools and the homes of as many as 20 diabetic and asthmatic children.
The three-year program – the first of its kind in Arkansas - will test the cost-effectiveness of providing distance health to poor, underserved areas. The grant came from the Office for the Advancement of Telehealth, which is within the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Lee High School and Whitten Elementary were selected after the need was determined and with support from Lee County Superintendent Wayne Thompson. Other partners with the project are the Lee County Community Health Center and the Lee County Health Unit.
Awarded to UAMS’ Center for Distance Health, the grant brings pediatric care as well as behavioral management expertise to one of the most medically underserved counties in Arkansas. The county has no pediatrician and a lack of transportation often prevents residents from seeking medical care until a trip to the emergency room is necessary.
The grant pays for a registered nurse on site and a nurse practitioner on the UAMS campus to diagnose most illnesses. UAMS’ Bryan Burke, M.D., a pediatrician, is the primary collaborating physician.
Medical treatment will be provided using two-way interactive video and medical devices that can be monitored over long distances. In the second and third years of the grant, equipment will be placed in the homes of diabetic and asthmatic children to monitor the management of their diseases.
“We hope to reduce school absenteeism and costly hospital admissions, which in turn will save money,” said Ann Bynum, Ed.D., UAMS’ Rural Hospital Program director. “If we can manage the disease we can save money for the health care system and have an impact on their lives.”
In the future, other under-served rural areas may benefit from such medical care, depending on the success of the Lee County program, Bynum said.
“We think this will give us some good outcome measures on how effective and how cost-efficient telemedicine can be with children,” said Bynum, who is the principal investigator on the project. “If we can show that there are cost savings by better managing chronic diseases through telemedicine, we can make this information available to others who may want to duplicate this model.”
The UAMS Center for Distance Health (CDH) is a technology-based partnership of the College of Medicine and Regional Programs. CDH directly offers telemedicine, continuing medical and health education, public health education, and evaluation research through interactive video throughout Arkansas.
In addition to offering interactive video programs, the CDH collaborates across campus to coordinate the delivery of UAMS expertise and services statewide through this same technology. In certain instances, the CDH also facilitates services offered by other health care organizations.