Cartwright Announces $401,679 in USDA Funds to St. Luke’s Hospital of Bethlehem
Bethlehem, PA – Today, U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development division awarded a $401,679 Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant to the St. Luke’s Hospital of Bethlehem to provide telemedicine for critically needed specialty care and disease management to a potential 143,573 rural residents who need higher quality medical services. This is grant of USDA Rural Development’s broad portfolio of programs to improve the lives of rural Americans.
This USDA Rural Development investment will help St. Luke's Hospital purchase telemedicine equipment to expand the telehealth network to the new, still under construction St. Luke's Hospital at Orwigsburg, which is slated to open in 2019. The project will include inpatient health care, behavioral health services, chronic disease management, and professional development for the staff. In addition, St. Luke's Hospital of Bethlehem provides over 1,900 virtual professional development sessions each year. This grant will enable increased participation from Orwigsburg hospital staff.
“Access to health care continues to be a top dinner table issue in our region,” said Rep. Cartwright. “As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I will always speak up for funding programs that improve or expand access in our rural communities.”
“This is great news for historically-underserved rural populations,” said Dr. James Balshi, the Chief Medical Information Officer at St. Luke’s University Health Network. “The grant will improve access to St. Luke’s high quality, low cost care through tele-medicine – a high-tech solution to an age-old problem.”
St. Luke’s University Health Network (SLUHN) is a non-profit, regional, fully integrated, nationally recognized network providing services at ten hospitals and more than 315 sites in Lehigh, Northampton, Carbon, Schuylkill, Bucks, Montgomery, Berks and Monroe counties in Pennsylvania and Warren and Hunterdon counties in New Jersey.
The USDA Distance Learning and Telemedicine program helps rural communities use the capabilities of telecommunications to overcome remoteness and low population density and make connections for education and health care.