Forefront Telecare, Inc. (Forefront), the leader in providing behavioral telehealth to seniors and other vulnerable adults in rural communities across the United States, announced in April the next phase of its #RuralHealthSTRONG COVID-19 Response Program. As part of this program, Forefront is offering behavioral telehealth carts with secure, HIPAA-compliant video conferencing at no-cost to hundreds of rural hospitals nationwide. This proven platform has already been deployed by Forefront to over 200 facilities across the country.
Each behavioral telehealth cart contains HIPAA-compliant hardware and software, allowing rural physicians and nurse practitioners to keep their hospitals’ behavioral health units operational while at home, eliminating the risk of spreading the coronavirus. These carts, along with secure, HIPAA-compliant video conferencing services, help to keep patients and providers safe and socially distant, ease financial pressure on hospitals, and allow providers to continue addressing their communities’ critical behavioral health needs.
“Rural hospitals are the essential healthcare hubs for countless rural communities across the country. Many hospitals were struggling financially before this COVID-19 crisis and are now at added risk because of the strain this crisis is placing on providers and facilities,” said Rob Rebak, CEO, Forefront Telecare. “Approximately 20% of the U.S. rural population is over 65, making this situation especially dangerous.”
“Rural America is facing an unprecedented challenge and Forefront is committed to helping with this program and more in the coming days and weeks,” Rebak continued.
The company rolled out a COVID-19 response in early March by expanding its secure HIPAA-compliant video platform capabilities to enable residents of rural skilled nursing facilities to continue to receive care from their local providers who may need to self-quarantine, as well as provide a way for residents and family members to remain in contact in lieu of in-person visits. In addition, Forefront has been working with hospital psychiatric units to set up telehealth options for staffing to supplement current shortages and to establish backup capacity in the event that current staff becomes incapacitated due to the impact of the coronavirus emergency.
“Prior to COVID-19, we saw how leveraging technology to save travel and time was especially important in addressing the mental health needs of rural America, where the gap between provider availability and need for psychiatric services is large,” said Andrew Rosenzweig, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer, Forefront Telecare. “Now that the vulnerability of health care providers to COVID-19 has proved so disturbingly high, our hope is that by enabling rural hospitals to make it safe for their mental health providers to treat their inpatients from home, Forefront will play a key role in ensuring that quality care continues to be delivered to these patients with significant mental health needs.”
Rural hospitals with behavioral health units are encouraged to contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about this offer of support.