Grant will equip Geisinger Medical Center and Geisinger Shamokin Area Community Hospital with innovative virtual care technologies.
DANVILLE, Pa. – Geisinger has been awarded a $948,741 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development to help grow its virtual inpatient nursing efforts in central Pennsylvania.
The grant, which is part of the USDA’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine program, is part of the USDA’s greater investment of $4.7 million to help people in rural Pennsylvania access remote education and health care resources. Rural Development’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine grants fund real-time, interactive distance learning and telemedicine services in rural and tribal areas to increase access to education, training and health care resources that are otherwise limited or unavailable.
“We’re always looking for ways to improve patient outcomes and employee experiences through innovative, efficient and effective approaches to care,” said Rebecca Stametz, vice president of digital transformation. “To do that, we need access to the best digital capabilities. By creating systems that improve the daily lives of our nurses, they can continue providing the best care in a rapidly evolving field. We’re grateful for the opportunities this grant will provide.”
The grant funding goes into effect in 2024 and will be used to equip Geisinger Medical Center and Geisinger Shamokin Area Community Hospital with new, state-of-the-art virtual nursing technologies as part of Geisinger’s Virtual Nursing Program.
The Virtual Nursing Program, which launched in 2023, empowers experienced nurses to offer remote, systemwide support through a 24/7 virtual nurse center. Virtual registered nurses handle admissions, discharges and virtual rounds, enabling bedside nurses to prioritize hands-on patient care. In turn, patients’ needs can be addressed in a timely manner, increasing patient satisfaction.
“Virtual nursing will play a vital role in the future of health care and how we address critical health care issues, like the ongoing nursing shortage and increased acuity of patients in our hospitals,” said Janet Tomcavage, executive vice president and chief nursing executive at Geisinger. “When we find innovative ways to build a work environment where nurses are engaged and working to the top of their skill set, our patients benefit too. It’s a win-win for everyone.”
Virtual inpatient nursing also helps bedside nurses balance their workload while providing an avenue for veteran nurses who may have found themselves leaving the profession due to retirement and the physical demands of bedside care.
“We’re eager to build on the success of our Virtual Nursing Program,” said Derek Godino, senior program director of nursing. “This grant will help us explore and expand our virtual nursing capabilities — meaning more of our inpatients will be able to benefit from this advanced level of care and more of our nurses will have added flexibility and career options.”
Geisinger is committed to making better health easier for the more than 1 million people it serves. Founded more than 100 years ago by Abigail Geisinger, the system now includes 10 hospital campuses, a health plan with more than half a million members, a research institute and the Geisinger College of Health Sciences, which includes schools of medicine, nursing and graduate education. With more than 25,000 employees and 1,700+ employed physicians, Geisinger boosts its hometown economies in Pennsylvania by billions of dollars annually. Learn more at geisinger.org or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Senior Communications Specialist