~ Press release issued by Valley Health
LURAY — Valley Health Page Memorial Hospital will receive $1 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Emergency Rural Health Care Grant Program to remediate the impact of COVID-19 and improve health and access to care in Page County.
“Rooted in Rural Healthcare” is a three-year, multi-faceted initiative led by Page Memorial Hospital, a critical access hospital, and its nonprofit parent network Valley Health, in partnership with Page County, Page County Public Schools and the Page Alliance for Community Action (PACA). The project focuses on empowering residents with tools that can transform their care and improve their health.
“Our Valley Health team mobilized in unprecedented ways when COVID-19 arrived in the Shenandoah Valley two and a half years ago,” says N. Travis Clark, PMH President and Valley Health Vice President. “In a very short timeframe we set up telehealth options, testing sites, and other processes to safeguard patients, staff and families, and we collaborated with the Health Department and congregate work and care settings to share resources and expertise. We are excited to have USDA support to further our work, applying what we learned from the pandemic to address emergency and chronic health issues in our community.”
Key components include:
• Remote monitoring systems for an estimated 100 patients, enabling them to transmit vital data (blood pressure, blood sugar, pulse, weight, oxygen levels) for real-time evaluation by a Community Health Worker or other provider. This will reduce the need to seek care at clinic, Emergency Department, or admission to the hospital. (Of special concern if bed space and emergency access is an issue due to COVID-19.)
• A telehealth pilot project with Page County Schools for on-demand access to care for minor illness, behavioral health and chronic care management. This will reduce the burden of office or Emergency Department visits, inconvenience to parent/guardian and need to take children out of school, and develop a network of care around student health. (More than half of school students in Page County receive free or reduced price lunch.) Pilot schools will include elementary, middle and high schools in the most remote areas of the county.
• Community Health Worker — trained nursing staﬀ will serve as a link between patient and service provider to help navigate care and provide healthy strategies. Patient support will include health and medication monitoring, nutrition and food prep, counseling and insurance access.
• RAM (Remote Area Medical) Clinic will return to deliver free medical, vision and dental care to uninsured and underinsured Page County residents in a one-day pop-up clinic. (In partnership with Page Memorial Hospital and Page Free Clinic)
• Community Garden and Food Pilot Program will help support three existing community gardens in Page County to grow and distribute produce, educate residents, and provide food-based preventive care. Community Health Worker and hospital staff will provide education on food preparation and importance of healthy diet in reducing the risk of common chronic conditions: obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes.
“Page County is an extraordinary community of caring people, but we have a good number of older and lower-income residents, and our geography presents transportation and technological challenges,” notes PMH Vice President Portia Brown. “Broadband and other infrastructure upgrades will help us use telehealth for outreach and monitoring; working with the schools, we can address student health issues more conveniently; and through community gardens and our PMH nutrition staff, we hope to improve access to nutritious food and prevention strategies for better health outcomes.”
“The ‘Rooted in Rural Healthcare’ program is a unique opportunity made possible by the USDA to try to connect those most in need with care,” says Jason Craig, Valley Health Director of Community Health.
“We hope our work will serve as a pilot that we can replicate in other communities we serve where access
to care may be challenging.”
The $1 million grant to Page Memorial Hospital was one of $74 million in rural healthcare projects announced last week by the USDA. The Emergency Rural Health Care Grant Program provides immediate relief to address economic conditions arising from the COVID-19 emergency. It also provides funding to advance ideas and solutions to solve regional rural health care problems to support the long-term sustainability of rural health care.
Valley Health is a nonprofit health system serving a population of more than 500,000 in Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland. The system includes six hospitals, more than 60 medical practices and Urgent Care centers, outpatient rehabilitation and fitness, medical transport, long-term care, and home health.