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FCC Awards $945,590 to MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center for COVID-19 Telehealth Programming

July 31, 2020

Des Moines, Iowa, July 16, 2020 – The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Wireline Competition Bureau has awarded $945,590 to MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center. The funding is part of the FCC’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program.

This award will be utilized to purchase telehealth equipment and patient monitoring devices to implement and expand critical connected care services for patients throughout Central Iowa, a need that arose as the COVID-19 pandemic reached Iowa. The telehealth services will be conducted at MercyOne Des Moines and Newton Medical Centers; as well as at more than 50 MercyOne primary care, cardiology and behavioral health clinics, including MercyOne House of Mercy.

“Telehealth is proving to be an invaluable resource to treat patients during the coronavirus pandemic, including those in rural areas,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

“It promotes social distancing, protects the safety of health care professionals and patients, and frees up space in health care facilities for those who need it most. By implementing more connected care services, these efforts will help bridge the digital divide and provide critical health care to rural communities throughout the state of Iowa.”

This funding will enable medical providers to continue providing high-quality patient care, while encouraging patients to practice social distancing, allowing sites to minimize personal protective equipment (PPE) usage, and protect MercyOne providers when caring for COVID-19 patients, as safety is a top priority at MercyOne. MercyOne Des Moines Foundation submitted the funding application on behalf of MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center.

“Our hospitals and clinics have had to make significant changes to ensure continued, safe and accessible care to our patient population,” said Karl Keeler, President of MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center. “The expansion of telehealth and remote patient monitoring through this award – especially for our most high-risk and vulnerable patients – is essential for us to provide high-quality, convenient and personalized care for Iowans during this pandemic.”

The award will fund equipment to help the following patients:

  • COVID-19 positive patients: Patients who are able to care for themselves will be enabled to stay in their homes under self-quarantine, while remaining connected to their health care providers and coaches for convenient, personalized care.
  • High-risk patients: Remote patient monitoring (RPM) devices including scales, glucose and blood pressure monitors will be purchased and used to support the care of high-risk patients with multiple chronic conditions who are at increased risk for complications from COVID-19. These devices will help clinicians proactively care for people in their home to avoid the need for in-person visits and trips to urgent care and the emergency room.
  • Aging populations: MercyOne locations are in both urban and rural communities across Central Iowa, serving large numbers of Iowans over age 60 who are at increased risk of COVID-19 complications.
  • Mental health patients: The equipment purchased will also be utilized in the provision of tele-therapy and care to patients with mental health and substance use disorders through MercyOne’s outpatient treatment program.

“We thank the FCC for this important award,” said Shannon Cofield, President of MercyOne Des Moines Foundation. “During this pandemic, support is vital for funding innovative ways to provide personalized care for patients where they are.”

Virtual visits are one of the ways MercyOne is helping ensure continued access to personalized care for patients. Additionally, MercyOne is resuming in-person visits with expanded safety protocols to help protect patients and our care teams including temperature and symptom screening for all individuals who enter care locations, requiring face masks for all, implementing practices to ensure physical separation and increased cleaning. Call your local MercyOne for additional details.

To date, the FCC’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program, which was authorized by the CARES Act, has approved 539 funding applications in 47 states plus Washington, D.C. and Guam for a total of $200 million in funding. Learn more about the FCC’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program and view a complete list of funding recipients to date. Learn more about the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected Initiative.

About MercyOne Central Iowa

MercyOne Central Iowa operates four not-for-profit, Catholic hospital campuses, with a total of 875 beds, along with more than 20 additional facilities that house more than 50 primary care, pediatric, internal medicine and specialty clinics. Founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1893, MercyOne Central Iowa is a member of MercyOne, a collaboration between CommonSpirit Health and Trinity Health – two of the country’s foremost, not-for-profit Catholic health organizations. Learn more at MercyOne.org.

About MercyOne Des Moines Foundation

MercyOne Des Moines Foundation secures vital funding that ensures equal access, clinical excellence and high-quality care for all in Greater Des Moines. Learn more at MercyOne.org/desmoinesfoundation.