The Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation awarded a $2.3 million grant this week to the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences to improve health care in rural Oklahoma.
The majority of the money, $1.8 million, will be used to underwrite service lines for mental health and addiction medicine through Project ECHO, which connects rural providers with specialists at the OSU center in west Tulsa.
The remaining funds will be directed to the Rural Oklahoma Network.
“We are grateful to the trustees of the Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation for recognizing the vision of our new Project ECHO program targeting mental health and addiction services in rural areas of Oklahoma,” said OSU-CHS President Kayse Shrum.
Project ECHO will connect rural providers with OSU-CHS specialists via computer, smartphone and tablet for weekly video conferences centered on treating complicated conditions.
“Through Project ECHO, rural providers can acquire the knowledge to treat many of their patients in their hometowns without having to refer their patients to an urban health-care setting many miles away,” Shrum said.
Rural providers will not be charged for the service.
Services lines dedicated to pediatric obesity and HIV/hepatitis C are among those in development in addition to mental health and addiction medicine.
The Rural Oklahoma Network, which is receiving $500,000 from the grant, is a practice-based research network that facilitates the development of peer learning among rural clinicians and providers, OSU researchers and community partners.
The funding will allow it to expand into 10 additional counties.
“We are always looking for opportunities to find transformational ways to help our community,” said Judy Zarrow Kishner, president of the Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation. “The work OSU Center for Health Sciences is doing to advance care delivery in rural Oklahoma will have a rippling effect for generations to come.
“My parents believed in giving where they saw a need, and OSU-CHS has identified a crucial need in rural Oklahoma to make medical care and medical knowledge more accessible.”