Marietta Memorial receives grant to create telemedicine program to fight opioid addiction

MARIETTA, Ohio (WTAP) - Marietta Memorial Hospital received a $465,000 grant to create a telemedicine program to improve healthcare access in the area.

Health officials believe telemedicine is an emerging technology for rural communities.

"We believe that we can really impact any age group through telemedicine," Memorial Health System's DeeAnn Gehlauf said.

Marietta Memorial has the focus and now the funds to set up a new telemedicine program thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"We received a $465,000 grant, specifically to implement programming for opioid addiction," Gehlauf said, "and our particular mechanism is on telemedicine to do that."

Telemedicine is a growing tool that allows health professionals to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients at a distance using telecommunications technology.

"This is an outreach methodology that allows us to speak to them literally," Gehlauf added, "and be able to see those patients and those individuals who need help through the technology itself."

Galauf says they’ve been working with many groups to get this started.

"The foundation has been actively involved, our IT department has been actively involved," she said, "our behavioral health unit but we’ve also collaborated with area nursing homes."

Gehlauf says it’s helpful to have federal funds available to help combat real problems like access to care in rural communities likes here.

"This is truly delivering medical care, it’s just doing so through IT technology," she said.