The Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas recently awarded a $136,400 grant to the Arkansas Rural Health Partnership (ARHP) to aid 14 South Arkansas hospitals. This grant allowed ARHP to purchase telehealth equipment for member hospitals.

Access to quality care via telehealth is especially crucial to COVID-19 patients, according to the news release.

IPads and mobile carts were purchased and will be distributed to the following ARHP member hospitals: Jefferson Regional Medical Center, Ashley County Medical Center, Baptist Health- Stuttgart, Bradley County Medical Center, Chicot Memorial Medical Center, Dallas County Medical Center, Delta Memorial Hospital, DeWitt Hospital and Nursing Home, Drew Memorial Health System, Helena Regional Medical Center, Magnolia Regional Medical Center,McGehee Hospital, Medical Center of South Arkansas, and Ouachita County Medical Center.

“We all recognize the need to be prepared to care for critically ill COVID-19 patients in rural Arkansas, especially if the larger Arkansas hospitals reach capacity,” says Mellie Bridewell, chief executive officer of ARHP. “Hospitals in the state’s rural areas can play a key role in responding to the pandemic in Arkansas, but most are struggling under financial pressures and limited resources including supplies and equipment.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is encouraging the widespread use of telehealth in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Telehealth technology, originally designed to give patients who live far from a provider reliable access to care, can now be more widely used as a way to screen and diagnose patients without risking the spread of COVID-19 through personal contact

“This generous grant from the Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas illustrates how industry and non-profit groups can work together to ensure rural Arkansans have access to quality healthcare services,” said Bridewell.

The Blue & You Foundation has awarded nine additional grants in its Rapid-Response COVID-19 Relief program, which will provide up to $1.7 million in grants to organizations in Arkansas working to prevent the spread of coronavirus or helping communities deal with its effects.