‘A new world of healthcare’: St. Joseph Hospital puts technology into the homes of its rural patients

LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) — CHI St. Joseph Health Hospital is sending more help to rural Kentuckians needing home health services. Doctors at St. Joseph have needed to be able to access their patients more often, so the hospital came up with a solution for that through the touch of technology.

That solution is a program created by the CHI St. Joseph Health Foundations called, “Telehealth Solutions for Rural Kentucky.” The foundation is the second-largest non-profit in the state of Kentucky.

“Telehealth Solutions for Rural Kentucky” is going to reach rural Kentuckians with the touch of technology. (CHI St. Joseph Health)

“Telehealth Solutions for Rural Kentucky” was initiated in early 2021 when the hospital’s home health team paired up with its physicians and specialists to discuss how they could better serve their patients in rural Kentucky.

“Telehealth Solutions for Rural Kentucky” is a $2.1 million dollar project, and the funding was one-hundred percent secured as of Wednesday, January 20, when a grant for $403,191 dollars came from the Federal Communications Commission Telehealth COVID-19 Round Two Program (‘FCC’).

It launched with a $1,022,334 million dollar U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Kentucky grant, and

The hospital has already put the grant money to work. The grant money has purchased monitors, tablet devices, and home health monitoring equipment for the hospital’s patients. Those patients are specifically the ones being treated by the cardiology, pulmonology, and neurology practices, for chronic diseases, whose conditions exacerbated COVID-19.

According to Janell Samuel, Market Director of Proposal Development, she says their telehealth program is a ‘new world for healthcare.’

“With the different telehealth projects that we have in mind, we can connect those patients with remote monitoring,” Samuel said. “They’re going to have tablet devices and other types of technology ware that monitors their pulse, their heart rate, and they’ll be working with the telehealth nurse and being monitored in that regard.”

Samuel said the doctors will also be given devices that will allow them to access their patients from the hospitals.

The grant money has also purchased a van for the hospital’s telehealth team and allowed the program to expand its services to fourteen additional counties including, Bourbon, Bullitt, Estill, Fayette, Garrard, Hardin, Jefferson, Jessamine, Larue, Lincoln, Marion, Powell, Spencer and Washington counties.

In total, “Telehealth Solutions for Rural Kentucky” now services 50 counties and offers home health services to 3,090 patients in those counties.

CHI Saint Joseph Health Foundations, in partnership with CHI Saint Joseph Health Medical Group and CommonSpirit Health at Home, received four grants totaling $1,074,828 from the USDA to fully scale the project. The other grant funding from the American Rescue Plan SHIP COVID-19 Testing and Mitigation Program went to the Saint Joseph Mount Sterling Foundation, the Saint Joseph Berea Foundation and the Flaget Memorial Hospital Foundation in Bardstown to scale the telehealth program surrounding those communities.

Long term, Samuel said that the program’s funding is projected to cover a three-year period, after which, the hospital hopes it will become self-sustainable and able to continue its services based on the patient’s insurance.