Bill Schmitt
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ChristianaCare awarded $714,000 FCC grant to expand its COVID-19 telemedicine program

ChristianaCare has received a $714,000 grant from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to support telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

ChristianaCare is one of only 17 health care providers in the U.S. and the first health system in Delaware to date to receive a grant under the FCC’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program. The funding is part of the recently enacted CARES Act, which appropriated $200 million to the FCC to support health care providers using telehealth during this national emergency.

ChristianaCare will use the grant to support its COVID-19 Telemedicine Program. The program will expand existing telehealth capabilities by increasing broadband access to telehealth services for vulnerable and underserved residents in Delaware by providing devices and data plans. It will also offer on-site telehealth services to communities with high disease burden and challenges accessing virtual health services. Access to broadband telehealth services enables COVID-19 patients to safely remain at home in isolation instead of presenting to hospital facilities for further evaluation and care.

“Before COVID-19, ChristianaCare was charting a course to transform care based on the vision that all care that can be done in the home, in the community or on a smartphone will be done in the home, in the community or on a smartphone,” said Janice E. Nevin, M.D., MPH, ChristianaCare president and chief executive officer. “This transformation has accelerated exponentially during the pandemic, because at this time, the safest place for our patients is in their home. The technology supported by this grant will ensure that patients receive the right care, at the right time and in the right place, dramatically lowering the risk of spreading COVID-19.”

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, ChristianaCare established a comprehensive and sophisticated COVID-19 virtual provider visit and interactive telehealth program. The program leverages telemedicine visits with a provider for those individuals who have coronavirus symptoms or for those who have already tested positive and are symptomatic.

A key component of the program is the remote monitoring of these individuals by ChristianaCare’s CareVio care management program through secure text messaging. This ongoing monitoring connects patients with a registered nurse who monitors their condition several times per day to make sure the patient is improving. If the patient’s condition begins to deteriorate, a provider telemedicine visit is scheduled.

Since the crisis began, CareVio has monitored more than 1,500 patients and more than 1,000 patients have had a telemedicine visit with the COVID-19 practice. CareVio has also called more than 4,400 patients following COVID-19 testing, ensuring they have a primary care provider and answering questions.

“The funding from the FCC grant will enable ChristianaCare to implement the required infrastructure, hire and train resources, acquire the necessary hardware and broadband devices, and successfully expand our transformative model for COVID-19 care,” said Sharon Anderson, RN, BSN, MS, FACHE, chief virtual health officer at ChristianaCare. “Providing broadband telehealth services to our disconnected, vulnerable patients and neighborhoods will not only ease the burden of COVID-19, but will certainly help build a telemedicine foundation to address disparities in access to care, including primary and specialty care, that extends beyond COVID-19.”

“I’m grateful to ChristianaCare for their innovation in delivering health using telemedicine and to the FCC for making these funds available so quickly to address our community’s needs during the pandemic,” said Senator Chris Coons, whose office provided support for ChristianaCare’s application. “This grant will lay the foundation for even more improvements in access to health care among our most vulnerable communities.”

“One of the fundamental goals of the CARES Act was to assist our health care systems and ensure all Delawareans could continue to receive safe, quality care during this public health crisis,” said Senator Tom Carper. “This federal funding will help ChristianaCare continue to diagnose and treat our community through expanded telehealth services, which will also help keep our health care workers and patients safe, Now, more than ever, we need to be looking out for each other, especially our most vulnerable neighbors. I’m pleased that this funding will help ensure that more Delawareans can connect with trusted health care providers even from home.”

“We’ve seen throughout the COVID-19 crisis the importance of telemedicine. Delawareans being able to access quality care from their homes while continuing to practice social distancing is critical during this difficult time,” said Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester. “I’m very pleased that ChristianaCare has received funding from the FCC to expand their telemedicine services.”


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About ChristianaCare

Headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware, ChristianaCare is one of the country’s most dynamic health care organizations, centered on improving health outcomes, making high-quality care more accessible and lowering health care costs. ChristianaCare includes an extensive network of primary care and outpatient services, home health care, urgent care centers, three hospitals (1,430 beds), a freestanding emergency department, a Level I trauma center and a Level III neonatal intensive care unit, a comprehensive stroke center and regional centers of excellence in heart and vascular care, cancer care and women’s health. It also includes the pioneering Gene Editing Institute.

ChristianaCare is nationally recognized as a great place to work, rated by Forbes as the 2nd best health system for diversity and inclusion, and the 29th best health system to work for in the United States, and by IDG Computerworld as one of the nation’s Best Places to Work in IT. ChristianaCare is rated by Healthgrades as one of America’s 50 Best Hospitals and continually ranked among the nation’s best by U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek and other national quality ratings. ChristianaCare is a nonprofit teaching health system with more than 260 residents and fellows. With its groundbreaking Center for Virtual Health and a focus on population health and value-based care, ChristianaCare is shaping the future of health care.