The use of telehealth services is expanding rapidly in southwestern Virginia, and Verizon is helping The University of Virginia's College at Wise lead the way by keeping its nursing curriculum up to speed with the technology.
A $20,000 Verizon Foundation grant is funding the development of one of Virginia's first telehealth nursing curricula at the Department of Nursing at UVa-Wise. The project is a partnership among UVa-Wise, the Healthy Appalachia Institute and the University of Virginia Office of Telemedicine.
Telehealth is emerging as a critical resource, enabling care to be provided to patients in rural locations such as Southwest Virginia by increasing access to specialty consultations, providing home monitoring, and helping to alleviate significant workforce shortages in primary and specialty health care fields.
The project's goal, preparing nurses with the knowledge and skills required to maximize the use of emerging and evolving telehealth technologies to improve health care access and services, is being implemented in the college's nursing curriculum this fall. The project also includes a regional telehealth symposium for practicing health care professionals, which will address crucial topics such as the ways in which telemedicine fits into patient and community health care to emerging uses of telehealth.
In addition, other Virginia colleges and universities will be able to use the UVa-Wise telenursing curriculum once it's developed.
"We are so appreciative of Verizon's support to help us better prepare our nursing students to use telehealth in the effective management of chronic disease, screening for diabetic retinopathy and other health care concerns," said Cathleen Collins, chair of the UVa-Wise Department of Nursing. "This will greatly benefit the health outcomes of our citizens."
B. Keith Fulton, Verizon Virginia vice president-government affairs, said, "Verizon and its employees are part of the fabric of the communities we serve, and we champion efforts to apply technology to meet challenges such as rural health care. The UVa-Wise telenursing curriculum will build the skill set that will help health care professionals provide improved access to health care services in the most rural areas of Virginia."
In addition to its Foundation support of telehealth-related programs such as those in Southwest Virginia, Verizon Connected Healthcare Solutions offers a comprehensive portfolio of managed, information technology and consulting services for the health care industry to help transform patient care delivery, enhance access to care and better manage costs.
About the UVa-Wise Department of Nursing
The University of Virginia's College at Wise is the only four-year state-supported college, and the only branch of the University of Virginia, in Southwest Virginia. The Department of Nursing offers a bachelor of science in nursing, including an RN to BSN program, and is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
About the Healthy Appalachia Institute
The Healthy Appalachia Institute's mission is to improve the health, education, environment and prosperity for residents of central Appalachia by collaborating across communities and organizations, generating and implementing new ideas, and engaging the social, economic and scientific issues that exist at the interface of health and the Appalachian culture. HAI is located on the campus of UVa-Wise and is a member of the National Network of Public Health Institutes.
About the UVa Office of Telemedicine
The Office of Telemedicine at the University of Virginia has been offering telemedicine services since 1994 and has completed 22,671 patient encounters as of April 15, 2011, saving Virginians and the environment more than 6 million miles of travel.
About the Verizon Foundation
The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon, uses its technology, financial resources and partnerships to address critical social issues, with a focus on education and domestic violence prevention. In 2010, the foundation awarded nearly $67 million to nonprofit agencies in the U.S. and abroad. Through Verizon Volunteers, one of the nation's largest employee volunteer programs, Verizon employees and retirees have volunteered nearly 6 million hours of community service since 2000. For more information on the foundation, visit http://www.verizonfoundation.org. In 2010, nonprofit groups in Virginia received more than $3.7 million from the Verizon Foundation. In addition, Verizon employees volunteered more than 53,300 hours to nonprofit groups throughout Virginia last year.