Oklahoma Higher Education Campus E-Clips sponsored by the Communicators Council

December 2013

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma Provides Grant to Expand OSU TeleHealth Network

USAO, Oklahoma and USA flags flying on USAO campus.

Dr. William Pettit, left, OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine interim senior associate dean and associate dean for rural health and Dr. Kayse Shrum, OSU-CHS president, present a thank-you gift to Dr. Gary Trennepohl, chairman of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma Affiliate Board, Paula Huck, director of community affairs for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma and executive director of the Oklahoma Caring Foundation, and Dr. Joseph Cunningham, vice president of health care management and chief medical officer for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma has provided Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences a $250,000 grant to expand the OSU TeleHealth network and provide additional access to health care for residents in rural areas of the state.

“Our primary mission at the OSU Center for Health Sciences is to provide primary care physicians for rural and underserved Oklahoma,” said Dr. Kayse Shrum, OSU Center for Health Sciences president. “Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma is one of our strongest partners in meeting this mission and recognizing the key role our TeleHealth program plays in delivering health care to residents all across our state.”

Funding from the grant will be used for new distance learning sites at rural hospitals in Altus, Ardmore, McAlester and Stillwater and to establish a fixed telemedicine site for medical consultations at Arkansas Verdigris Valley Health Centers in Porter.

“Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma is proud to be part of this exciting endeavor with OSU. We are committed to providing accessible health care across the state for all Oklahomans,” said Dr. Joseph Cunningham, vice president of health care management and chief medical officer at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma.

The OSU TeleHealth network consists of more than 60 sites in 49 cities and towns stretching from Felt in the Oklahoma panhandle to Idabel in southeastern Oklahoma. The university also operates the Mobile Telemedicine Clinic to offer TeleHealth services in communities without a fixed site.

“The TeleHealth network also enables our students to receive hands-on training in telemedicine,” said Dr. William Pettit, interim senior associate dean and associate dean of rural health at OSU-CHS. “In addition to providing these critical health care services to rural residents of our state, we are also training our students on technology they may one day utilize in their own practices.”

Through the OSU TeleHealth network, residents in rural communities can receive access to specialty care like dermatology, psychology, psychiatry, pulmonology, cardiology and internal medicine.

“The network connects patients in rural communities with specialty physicians in urban areas via the Internet,” said Steve Casady, director of OSU TeleHealth. “The network operates as a lifeline to these services for people who live outside the metro areas of Oklahoma City and Tulsa.”

Additional distance learning sites are being planned with funding from the grant and will be brought online in the next year.

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