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Forks physicians, nurses to benefit from long distance learning grant

Olympic Medical Center, Port Angeles, press release - Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded an $113,466 grant to Olympic Medical Center to implement a distance learning program on the Olympic Peninsula. Olympic Medical Center will develop and administer the grant, connecting Forks Community Hospital, Jefferson Healthcare in Port Townsend and Olympic Medical Center’s Sequim campus through technology infrastructure. 

Olympic Medical is one of 100 grant recipients across 34 states to receive funding through the USDA Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Program.

With the funds, Olympic Medical will develop a distance learning network to provide medical education to physicians and other health care providers affiliated with the three participating hospitals, which have a combined medical staff of more than 300 physicians and allied health providers, hundreds of nurses and other health care professionals. Once completed, the distance learning network will provide health care workers with distance medical training seminars, eliminating the need to travel to Seattle and elsewhere for specialized medical education. Rural residents will benefit through expanded access to telemedicine and health education programs available locally in the community.

Swedish Medical Services is partnering with Olympic Medical Center to offer education and telemedicine utilizing the new distance learning network provided by the grant.

“Olympic Medical Center is very pleased to receive a distance learning and telemedicine grant from the USDA,” says Eric Lewis, chief executive officer, Olympic Medical Center.  “With these funds, we will develop a world-class distance learning program across Clallam and Jefferson counties, serving both the rural population and the medical community.  This will also assist Olympic Medical Center and our partner hospitals Jefferson Healthcare and Forks Community Hospital in the ability to provide additional medical services to Peninsula residents through Swedish telemedicine and improve the quality of life in our community.”

The rural communities of Clallam and Jefferson Counties present unique health care challenges. To address health issues specific to the North Olympic Peninsula, Olympic Medical plans to focus on geriatric care and education, as well as chronic disease management programs.

"This program delivers educational and medical opportunities that are urgently needed in remote, rural areas," says U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "President Obama has said that no matter where you live in America, you should have access to quality educational opportunities. Rural Americans deserve the same opportunities for education and medical care as metropolitan-area residents, and these funds will make that happen."

 

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