October 31, 2018

Warner & Kaine Announce Nearly $500,000 to Expand Telemedicine for Southwest Virginia and Eastern Shore Rural Communities

~ Funds will increase access to opioid treatment and medical specialists ~ 

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that two Virginia organizations have received nearly $500,000 in federal funds to expand access to health care services for patients in rural and underserved areas through the use of telemedicine.

“Communities across Virginia have been hit hard by opioid abuse. Too often, those seeking treatment for addiction struggle to get the medical and mental health care they need. Expanding access to telehealth services is a critical way to expand treatment and recovery options, especially in more rural areas of Virginia,” said the Senators.

The Bay Rivers Telehealth Alliance has received $226,554 to expand access to opioid abuse treatment for the Middle Peninsula, Northern Neck and Eastern Shore of Virginia. In the area, demand for opioid treatment services exceeds the capacity of available mental health providers. The funds will be used to purchase video conferencing equipment and telemedicine carts to expand treatment options for over 18,000 rural residents.

The St. Charles Health Council has received a grant of $269,044 to develop a telehealth program in Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee and Smyth counties, which will allow patients to receive specialty medical care from providers in physically distant areas, such as the University of Virginia, using video conferencing and other technology. The program will also expand access in the region to mental health services, including treatment for opioid addiction.  

The funds were awarded through the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Office of Rural Development.

Last week, President Trump signed into law a bipartisan substance abuse treatment bill, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, which included provisions authored by both Senators to improve the quality of addiction recovery programs and expand access to addiction treatment through telehealth services.