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HEALTH CONNECT Program Awards $231,000 to Six Innovative

CHARLESTON, W.VA. -- Health-care providers from
throughout the state have been given booster shots of funding from Bell
Atlantic-West Virginia to pursue several forward-looking solutions to
health-care problems.

Six projects involving more than 30 rural- and urban-based hospitals,
clinics, schools, universities and medical organizations tonight received
grants totaling $231,000 under the Bell Atlantic HEALTH CONNECT Grant
Program. The program was developed to support health-care solutions
using telecommunications technology.

"Our state has one of the most advanced telecommunications
infrastructures in the country, and it's encouraging to see innovators
such as tonight's honorees using that infrastructure to address real
health-care issues," said "http://www.ba.com/homes/bone.html">Dennis Bone, president and CEO of
Bell Atlantic-West Virginia, Inc. "We're proud to support these
pioneers' vision and creativity."

HEALTH CONNECT grant winners include:

  • Radiological Consultants Association [RCA]: A $45,000
    grant will be used to buy hardware and software necessary to provide
    "teleradiology," e-mail, Internet access and other electronic
    services at Davis Memorial Hospital in Elkins, Broaddus Hospital in
    Philippi, Tucker Community Care Center in Parsons, and the planned
    Buckhannon Medical Center. Teleradiology uses high-speed data
    communications that allow radiologists to view x-rays remotely -- by
    computer - at any time. That is, a radiologist in Fairmont could consult
    with an emergency-room physician in Elkins on a particular case even in
    the middle of the night, saving valuable travel time and expenses.
  • Webster County Memorial Hospital in Webster Springs: A
    $15,000 award will support the hospital's connection to RCA's
    teleradiology access services, as well as e-mail, medical references and
    Internet access. In addition, the hospital will link with United
    Hospital Center in Clarksburg as part of an existing Essential Access
    Community Hospital/Rural Primary Care Hospital network to provide medical
    back-up services, handle patient transfers and share patient information.
  • Valley Health Systems, Inc. and St. Mary's Hospital of
    Huntington, along with Cabell-Huntington Hospital and the Concurrent
    Engineering Research Center at West Virginia University:
    A $50,000
    grant will help purchase equipment to extend an existing network -- which
    offers access to electronic patient records, on-line consultation, e-mail
    and desktop videoconferencing -- to Harts Health Center, Crum Community
    Health Center, and the Carl Johnson Medical Center in Huntington.
  • Marshall University Medical School, Cabell-Huntington Hospital,
    the Cabell County Health Department and Lincoln Primary Health
    A $45,000 grant will help buy required equipment to provide
    faculty, staff, students, health-care providers, the community and others
    with access to a number of community and globally based Internet
    information systems, as well as remote access to local area networks.
    This program will encourage collaboration and exchange of information to
    support education, patient care and research.
  • The Partners in Health Network, Inc.: First announced in
    March, this $50,000 award will help establish a 12-county, high-speed
    health information network in central and southern West Virginia. The
    network will allow participating health-care providers to exchange
    administrative, financial and clinical information more quickly and
  • Berkeley County Health Department: A $26,000 grant will
    help buy equipment to help health department and education professionals
    develop an electronic wellness course to address root causes of health
    problems in West Virginia. The course will be available to state
    kindergarten through twelfth-grade schools linked to the Internet under
    the Bell Atlantic® WORLD SCHOOL(sm)

Bell Atlantic Corporation (NYSE: BEL) is at the forefront of the new
communications, entertainment and information industry. In the
mid-Atlantic region, the company is the premier provider of local
telecommunications and advanced services. Globally, it is one of the
largest investors in the high-growth wireless communication marketplace.
Bell Atlantic also owns a substantial interest in Telecom Corporation of
New Zealand and is actively developing high-growth national and
international business opportunities in all phases of the industry.


Media contact:

    Bell Atlantic: Harry Mitchell, 304-344-7562



For Radiological Consultants Association: Sam Merandi, 304-366-2600

For Webster County Memorial Hospital: Steve Gavalghik, 304-847-5682

For Valley Health Systems, et. al.: Dr. Bruce Merkin, 304-525-3334

For Marshall University Medical School, et. al.: Jan Fox, 304-696-6706

For the Partners in Health Network, Inc.: Beth Kelly, 304-348-9619

For Berkeley County Health Department: Twyla Carr, 304-267-9649