Honesdale, PA – Digital mammography for Pike County, faster transmission of x-rays to radiologists and mobile fetal monitoring units that can be used anywhere in Wayne Memorial Hospital are just three of the projects in the pipeline for Wayne Memorial, thanks to a six-figure grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program (DLT). The award for $351,748 will fund five projects altogether.
“We’re thrilled to receive this USDA award,” said David Hoff, chief executive officer of Wayne Memorial Hospital. “The monies will bring new levels of service to our patients and the community at large. Wayne Memorial has embraced 21st technology for some time. Grant awards like this help us to continue to stay ahead of the curve.”
The funds will enable Wayne Memorial to offer digital mammography for the first time at its Pike County clinic in Lords Valley. The current radiography unit at the center will be replaced with an advanced system that can generate digital mammography (and x-ray) images.
Grant monies will also be used to purchase direct capture digital technology, which will transmit x-ray images more efficiently to off-site physicians and consultants.
“Direct capture radiology offers a lot of advantages,” explained Rob Brzuchalski, CRA, RT, RDMS, manager of WMH Imaging Services. “The technology allows us to capture an x-ray image much faster – five seconds, say, compared to a minute-and-a-half—plus, the resolution or the sharpness of the image is much better. It also allows us to effectively maneuver the equipment to the patient, reducing the need to continually move or re-position the patient throughout the exam. This is especially important in trauma and acutely ill patients that have limited mobility. In addition, we expect to significantly reduce radiation dosage, in some cases by up to 50%.
“In short, the patient’s getting a better service more quickly and more safely. Their doctor has access to the patient’s x-ray image in a fraction of the time we’re doing it now.”
The mobile fetal monitoring system, which can be utilized in the Emergency Department or an operating room or anywhere in the hospital, represents an advancement of the hospital’s current technology. The units will enhance the capabilities offered by the maternal-neonatal fetal monitoring system installed in the hospital’s New Beginnings Birthing Suites in 2005, also made possible through a USDA Telemedicine grant.
The two other projects to be financed involve telecardiology—technology to instantaneously transmit echo-cardiograms to cardiologists at remote locations – and Telestroke, a system which provides a real-time link between Wayne Memorial and Geisinger Medical Center’s accredited Primary Stroke Center.
The Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program (DLT), managed by the USDA’s Rural Utilities Service’ Office of Rural Development, is designed specifically to meet the educational and health care needs of rural America. Through loans, grants and loan/grant combinations, the DLT helps fund advanced telecommunications technologies to provide enhanced learning and health care opportunities for rural residents. Grants generally range from $50,000 to $500,000 and require a 15-50% match.
Hoff said the matching requirement will be met through the hospital’s normal budgeting processes.
“We received the full amount we requested,” said Jack Dennis, WMH manager of grants and development, which is evidence of both our need and our ability to make appropriate use of the funding awarded.”
This is the third grant from the USDA awarded to WMH in six years.