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$1.7 million grant to health services

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has already started helping provide health care, at least in Pagosa Springs.

The Upper San Juan Health Service District (USJHSD) has been awarded a Health Care Innovation award in the amount of $1.7 million. The grant, according to Pagosa Springs Medical Center’s Director of Development Claire Bradshaw, will be used to create a tele-health emergency response and care program, “designed to improve cardiac and stroke care.”

Out of the 26 health care organizations to receive this award, USJHSD was the only one in Colorado.

“We are so proud to be the only Colorado recipient of this award,” PSMC CEO Brad Cochennet said in a written statement, adding, “We look forward to using the funding to combine innovative technology and quality health care professionals to provide state-of-the-art cardiac and stroke care to our rural community.”

The award is given by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Innovation Center to enable organizations to implement projects in communities which strive to improve health care for people enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation administers the awards through cooperative agreements over three years.

Pagosa Springs Medical Center will expand access to specialists and improve the quality of acute care with this funding. The USJHSD will complete this mission with cardiovascular early detection and wellness programs, implementation of a telemedicine acute stroke care program, using telemedicine and remote diagnostics for cardiologist consultations, and upgrading and retraining the Emergency Medical Services Division (EMS) to manage urgent care transports and in-home follow-up patient care.

“The funding will give rural southwest Colorado access to Front Range-based cardiologists and neurologists in real-time. This is critical for saving or prolonging lives,” Cochennet said.

In addition to providing better and easier access to health care, the program will also train an estimated 25 paramedics and tele-health clinicians and create 13 new jobs to provide a new type of clinical team that will improve care outcomes for rural cardiovascular patients.

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