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Telemedicine grant will help St. Luke's reach underserved rural patients

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Artist rendering of the planned Geisinger St. Luke's Hospital -Orwigsburg. (File)
Artist rendering of the planned Geisinger St. Luke's Hospital -Orwigsburg. (File)

As St. Luke's University Health Network awaits the opening of its Geisinger St. Luke's Hospital -Orwigsburg later this year, it has received a grant to help improve care at the rural Schuylkill County hospital.

St. Luke’s has received $401,700 under the 2018 Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program administered by the U.S. Department Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service.

The money will be used to connect St. Luke’s Hospital–Bethlehem to the Geisinger St. Luke’s Hospital in Orwigsburg via telehealth equipment.

Use of the telehealth equipment is expected to provide better access to specialty care to more than 140,000 rural patients who are currently underserved. Such care could be in the fields of behavioral health services or chronic disease management, for example.

“This is great news for historically-underserved rural populations,” said Dr. James Balshi, chief medical information officer for St. Luke’s. “The grant will improve access to St. Luke’s high quality, low cost care through telemedicine – a high-tech solution to an age-old problem.”

The grant will also enable Geisinger St. Luke’s Hospital staff to participate in virtual professional development training.

The 120,000-square-foot Geisinger St. Luke’s Hospital is currently under construction near Orwigsburg and is scheduled to open later this year.

The final steel beams were set into place at the construction site in November.

To be operated by St. Luke’s University Health Network and Geisinger Health System, the hospital will be the first in Pennsylvania where two health care systems have agreed to equally co-own, build and manage a new hospital.

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Stacy Wescoe

Stacy Wescoe

Reporter Stacy Wescoe has her finger on the pulse of the business community in the Greater Lehigh Valley and keeps you up-to-date with technology and trends, plus what coworkers and competitors are talking about around the water cooler — and on social media. She can be reached at stacyw@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4104. Follow her on Twitter at @morestacy and on Facebook. Circle Stacy Wescoe on .

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