Patients in rural Minnesota and Wisconsin will now have the opportunity to receive care from top cardiologists in Minneapolis without ever leaving their local hospital, thanks to a breakthrough program from the Minneapolis Heart Institute and funded by three Farm Credit institutions committed to supporting the needs of rural America.
Three Farm Credit organizations, AgStar Financial Services, AgriBank and CoBank, are donating a total of $250,000 to the Abbott Northwestern Hospital Foundation to create five TeleHeart® sites in Minnesota and Wisconsin. TeleHeart®, a telemedicine service of Minneapolis Heart Institute® at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, allows patients in rural communities to consult with cardiologists without driving to Minneapolis.
United Hospital District in Blue Earth, Minnesota, about 120 miles southwest of Minneapolis, will be the latest site to use the program, which mixes state-of-the-art video conferencing technology to connect doctors to patients.
"United Hospital District is excited to work with Minneapolis Heart Institute to bring this needed service to our region. They are recognized as one of the world's leading heart institutes. We are also thankful to Farm Credit for making this possible through their generous support," said Rick Ash, president and CEO of United Hospital District.
"We are dedicated to improving access to quality care locally, and through this collaboration we will be able to bring nationally recognized cardiovascular care to our patients. Telehealth technology has progressed to a level where remote patient visits are as effective as in-person visits while reducing patient inconvenience. Providing this level of care locally—using today's telehealth technology—will help patients have shorter wait times for appointments, reduced travel for themselves and their families, while improving access to quality specialty care closer to home," Ash said.
Under the terms of the grant, three additional TeleHeart® sites are planned in rural Minnesota and one in Wisconsin.
"Access to dependable, high-quality health care is a significant challenge for rural communities," said Everett Dobrinski, chairman of the board, CoBank. "As mission-driven organizations with a commitment to agriculture and rural America, Farm Credit is proud to be part of the solution to this important problem. We look forward to the benefits in cardiology care that will be experienced by the residents in these communities." In addition to serving as the chairman of CoBank's board of directors, Dobrinski is himself a rural resident and, together with his son, owns and operates a 5,000-acre North Dakota grain farm.
This is the second grant the Abbott Northwestern Hospital Foundation has received for TeleHeart® from Farm Credit members. In August 2014, the first site was launched in Olivia, Minnesota, where 50 patients were served in the first year.
"Telehealth offers the opportunity for rural patients to have increased access to high-quality care, including subspecialists, without the hassles of travel, cost, and family time away from work or childcare. For cardiologists, Telehealth offers the opportunity to see more patients in more places, and be better stewards for our patients and rural physician colleagues," said Marc Newell, MD, cardiologist with Minneapolis Heart Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hospital.
About the Farm Credit System
For nearly a century, Farm Credit Services has been a national provider of credit and related services to rural America through its cooperative network of customer-owned lending institutions. Farm Credit provides more than $200 billion in loans and leases to farmers, ranchers, rural homeowners, aquatic producers, timber harvesters, agribusinesses, and agricultural and rural utility cooperatives. For more information about the Farm Credit System, please visit farmcredit.com.