The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has awarded the Hillman Center for Pediatric Transplantation at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh with one of the first six grants from the COVID-19 Telehealth Program Fund — and the first to a children’s hospital.
The grant, totaling $192,500, will provide telehealth services to organ transplant pediatric patients who are immunocompromised and who are at an increased risk for getting COVID-19.
“During this unprecedented time, the only follow-up option for our at-risk and most vulnerable patients are remote visits,” said George Mazariegos, MD, chief of pediatric transplantation, UPMC Children’s, and affiliated faculty member of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. “With this grant from the FCC, we can now provide an immediate solution to solving the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic for the chronic care condition of pre- and post-transplant care.”
There are nearly 1,000 post-transplant patients that UPMC Children’s treats on a regular basis and many are from out-of-state. This can make it very difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic to be able to make on-site follow-up appointments. Ramping up telemedicine services is vital in keeping these patients healthy and safe.
In partnership with Sano Health and RealTime Clinic, Inc., UPMC Children’s will now receive 400 mobile devices with data connectivity, adherence apps and post-transplant educational materials for families.
“The Starzl Network for Pediatric Transplantation and its ability to connect and leverage industry partners really helped the team at UPMC Children’s to rapidly respond to this opportunity and maintain the highest continuity of care for our most vulnerable transplant patients,” added Dr. Mazariegos.
“We are delighted to partner with UPMC Children’s to enable children with organ transplants to receive much needed care through telehealth without the risk of COVID-19 infection,” said Evan Grayer, co-founder of Sano Health. “Positively influencing health outcomes for an at-risk population by leveraging wireless solutions is at the heart of Sano Health’s mission, and we are proud to be associated with the pediatric transplant program at UPMC Children’s.”
“We are thrilled to work with UPMC Children’s to provide a critical telehealth app to share patient educational material and patient-reported measures such as quality-of-life surveys to transplant families,” said Nehal Swami, founder & CEO, RealTime Clinic, Inc. “We look forward to this partnership ensuring continuity of care to at-risk children via telehealth during the COVID-19 crisis.”
The first six grants are just a portion of the $200 million the FCC will distribute through the program through the CARES Act. Other hospitals that received funding include Grady Memorial Hospital, Hudson River HealthCare, Inc., Mount Sinai Health System, Neighborhood Health Care, Inc., and Ochsner Clinic Foundation.