Community Health Center, Inc. (CHC) has been awarded $2.2M over five years from the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) to provide telehealth-based training and support to primary care providers in rural, frontier, and other underserved areas of the U.S. CHC is one of nine awardees nationally, and the only Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) recipient.
CHC and its Weitzman Institute have recruited 50 rural spoke sites within six FQHCs and a regional network of FQHCs across four states (AZ, CA, ME, NY) to participate in the project. Further expanding the program’s reach, the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) and the national School-Based Health Alliance (SBHA) have signed on as partners.
The Project ECHO© technology-enabled learning tool will be a primary means of training providers in rural, frontier and underserved areas to create a robust national learning community addressing gaps in care, and help primary care providers manage complex and chronic conditions of their patients, including substance use disorders and long COVID, through a team-based model of care.
The program will join with CHC affiliate and national e-Consult provider ConferMED, to offer specialists in ConferMED’s e-consult network to serve as faculty for Project ECHO and connect rural and frontier primary care providers with specialists to combat specialty care shortages in their regions.
“More than fifty-five percent of people in the U.S. live in areas with primary health care shortages. This award recognizes the pioneering work CHC has been doing through its Weitzman Institute at the nexus of health equity, telehealth, and workforce development,” said April Joy Damian, PhD, MSc, CHPM, PMP, Vice President and Director of the CHC’s Weitzman Institute. “We have built on years of experience in providing telehealth and in training the next generation of primary care providers in the most advance methods of caring for underserved populations.”
“The changes in health care delivery due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the immediate need for a rapid shift to telemedicine brought about a “reinvention” in the delivery of care between providers and patients. This was perhaps felt most acutely in rural and frontier settings,” said Mark Masselli, Founder, President and CEO of Community Health Center, Inc. “This $2.2M award from HRSA recognizes the gaps existing in care across the country and we look forward to making significant strides in filling those gaps over the next five years.”