Business Briefs

Farm Credit organizations contribute $40,000 to support rural telemedicine in western Minnesota

Farm Credit organizations serving rural communities in Minnesota have joined to contribute $40,000 to a “telemedicine” initiative in the western part of the state.

AgStar Financial Services, AgriBank, CoBank and United FCS made the contribution to Abbott Northwestern Hospital, part of Allina Health, in Minneapolis. The grant will enable cardiologists at Abbott Northwestern to remotely treat patients at the RC Hospital in rural Olivia, located more than 100 miles away.

“One of the significant challenges for rural communities is access to dependable, high-quality health care,” said Everett Dobrinski, chairman, CoBank. “Telemedicine technology enables residents of these communities to receive treatment from leading physicians and other providers in urban centers without having to travel long distances. We’re very pleased to be making this contribution and look forward to the benefits it will deliver over the long term.”

The new program, which builds on the existing Allina Health telehealth program, is expected to launch this month. The Farm Credit grant will be used to cover the costs of the telemedicine equipment, including bedside ultrasound, as well as training for RC Hospital’s local staff. The grant was supplemented by additional funding from the Abbott Northwestern Hospital Foundation.

Initially, the cardiac telehealth program will be able to serve six patients each week. Patients and medical staff will be able to see and talk with each other by computer. In Olivia, a hospital staff member will perform ultrasound tests on patients, and real-time images will help cardiologists in Minneapolis diagnose or rule out heart issues.