USDA Grant

USDA Grant


Telecommunications Improve Education and Patient Care in Arkansas Nursing Homes

Using a $162,002 federal grant, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) will soon put telecommunications to work in the Arkansas Delta improving the education levels of nursing home caregivers and enabling UAMS’ geriatrics specialists to see patients in long-term care facilities in the Delta.

The grant, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was awarded to the UAMS College of Nursing’s Hartford Center for Geriatric Nursing Excellence and its Delta Telecommunications Centers project.

The funding will be used in part to establish computer labs with Internet access at six nursing homes. In addition, two of those nursing homes will have telemedicine links with geriatrics specialists at UAMS in Little Rock and the eight Centers on Aging that are part of the Arkansas Aging Initiative, a program of the UAMS Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging.

The computer labs will be available to nursing staff, including certified nursing assistants (C.N.A.s), licensed practical nurses (L.P.N.s) and registered nurses (R.N.s) who want to advance their nursing education level.

“The research shows us that increasing the number of registered nurses and nurses with bachelor’s degrees in nursing with a focus on long-term care will result in better resident and patient outcomes,” said UAMS’ Claudia Beverly, Ph.D., R.N., director of the UAMS Hartford Center for Geriatric Nursing Excellence. “This grant increases access to technology for nurses in rural underserved counties. It is really a partnership with nursing homes, home health, assisted living and hospice to help individuals acquire registered nurse degrees.”

The six long-term care facilities are: Cave City Nursing Home, Sharp County; Gardner Nursing Center, Star City (Lincoln County); St. John’s Place of Arkansas, Fordyce (Dallas County); Woodruff County Health Center, McCrory (Woodruff County); Corning Therapy and Living Center, Corning (Clay County); Osceola Therapy and Living Center, Osceola (Mississippi County).

The Cave City Nursing Home and St. John’s Place of Arkansas in Fordyce will have their patient care augmented by telemedicine links with UAMS and the Arkansas Aging Initiative. Telemedicine uses two-way interactive video and diagnostic equipment that enables doctors to provide care from distant locations.

The telemedicine/clinical component is a first in the Hartford Center’s history, Beverly said.

“While our Hartford Center is typically focused on education and preparing the long-term care workforce, we are also concerned about improving outcomes of older adults in nursing homes and long-term care in general,” Beverly said. “These telemedicine connections will help us do that.”