AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Medical College of Georgia’s Center for Telehealth receives one million dollars in federal funding.

The federal fund will help improve accessibility, affordability and quality of healthcare for people who live in rural communities. 

For more than two decades, the Medical College of Georgia has invested in telehealth communications. 

The new federal funding will help MCG improve its reach to underserved populations throughout the state of Georgia, regardless of their location.

U.S. Representative Buddy Carter says this effort in inclusion will benefit patients by keeping them closer to loved ones.

“This is a collaborative effort between Augusta- between the Medical College of Georgia- and the rural hospitals,” said Carter. “Building up relationships so that they can become dependent on each other so that patients, as we know, recover better if they’ve got family members and family support around there. They recover at home in their own communities.”

For students, clinical training courses and certifications in rural health will be provided.

“So, our students who are graduating…telehealth will already be how they practice medicine,” said Dr. Matt Lyon, Chair of Telehealth.

“If they’re at the hub and can provide that service to clinicians in the community,” said Augusta University President Brooks Keel. “Or they might be one of those clinicians in the rural area that will already have the experience and the expertise in knowing what telehealth is about.”

President Keel says the connection with rural hospitals will remain.

“If a patient starts getting into trouble in their care there, we can have a helicopter dispatched to bring them here for that more sophisticated, trauma-type service that we can provide,” said President Keel. 

Representative Carter tells us that improving patient outcomes are most important.

“Take, for instance, a stroke patient,” said Representative Carter. “That first hour is so vitally important. If we can get that stroke patient who is in a rural community into a rural hospital, get them hooked up with the experts here who can help treat them essentially in that first hour without them having to get them prepped and have them travel here or have them transported here, we can save lives.”

President Keel says they expect the expansion of MCG Telehealth Center to have a significant impact in improving healthcare access for all Georgians.