Distressed rural health care providers nationwide get virtual help from San Antonio-based program


SAN ANTONIO – – Healthcare worker shortages and lack of resources were already issues for rural communities before the COVID-19 pandemic and when it hit, these barriers were exacerbated.

This is why national funding created a virtual program to help these providers.

The Rural Telementoring Training Center (RTTC) is based at UT Health San Antonio.

RISE (Resources, Information, Support and Education) for rural telementoring was officially launched last week, but the program has been running for about a year and is already reaching hundreds of rural providers nationwide.

“Often times, rural health workers can be the one or one of the few providers providing a certain service,” said program director Dr Waridibo Allison.

Dr. Allison and her team provide virtual training, technical assistance and assessments to providers across the country.

“An example that I often give is hepatitis C. So treatment for hepatitis C can be done by specialists, but it can also be done by primary care providers if they have the information and knowledge. appropriate training, ”Allison said.

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His team and partners offer this virtual training so that rural patients don’t have to drive hours in a big city to see a specialist.

“It’s isolating and that’s why it’s important to try to provide them with so many resources within one community,” said the program’s community health worker, Raudel Bobadilla.

Bobadilla constantly visits these rural clinics, seeing firsthand what they need.

“They want educational programs. They want training opportunities, ”he said.

The telementorship program offers this in the form of webinars, virtual one-on-one consultations, and even podcasts.

RISE for Rural Telementoring offers training and tools for six models of:

  • Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO®), a well-established model of guided practice and lifelong learning that connects community health workers with experts to discuss cases and share best practices.

  • One-on-one consultations between health care providers and subject matter experts.

  • Webinars

  • Online modules and programs

  • Podcasts

  • Community health clubs, which involve groups that come together for structured sessions to support each other, learn about a health topic, and organize action on a health issue that is important to their community.

The RTTC was formed from a grant of nearly $ 3 million over three years in September 2020 from the Health Resources and Services Administration of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. This funding is part of the agency’s Rural Health Communities Awards, a sustained effort to improve care in rural communities.

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“It provides them with peer support and alleviates isolation,” Dr. Allison said.

Giving providers peace of mind allows them to provide patients with better and more comprehensive care that they are likely to continue if they can stay in their own community.

Providers who want to set up telementoring sessions, improve a program they already have, or just ask questions can visit the program’s website or email them at [email protected]

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