To provide quality emergency care in rural areas in Mississippi where resources and medical providers are often scarce.
In Mississippi, rural residents with emergency medical needs are often hundreds of miles away from getting appropriate care.
For that reason, the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) approached The Bower Foundation with a unique concept of delivering quality emergency medical care to rural areas. UMMC proposed connecting rural nurse practitioners with the Emergency Department of UMMC using telemedicine technology. This way, local practitioners could receive critical support in providing medical coverage to some of Mississippi's most medically underserved regions through a video link with UMMC physicians. To make this connection possible, we had to initiate high-speed services previously unavailable in our state. New technology played a crucial role in bringing telehealth to Mississippi.
After receiving start-up funding from the Foundation, the program is now financially self-sufficient and has received $5.8 million from the FCC to expand the program to more hospitals, health departments and physician offices. It is now poised not just to improve health care in Mississippi's underserved areas, but also to continue educating nurse practitioners across the state.
Today, TelEmergency provides emergency medical coverage to 15 emergency departments in rural critical access hospitals. UMMC was designated as one of the two Telehealth Centers of Excellence by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration. This program has served hundreds of thousands of patients statewide since it began in 2003.