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NKU Receives Grant to Help Expand Telehealth Medicine in Rural Communities


Nov. 4, 2021 —  The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it is awarding a grant to Northern Kentucky University aimed at expanding telehealth and telemedicine resources in rural communities in the Northern Kentucky region.

The grant, worth $182,792, will allow NKU to help St. Elizabeth Healthcare to expand its school-based health telemedicine program to Pendleton, Owen, Carroll, Grant and Gallatin County Schools. The USDA grant will also allow NorthKey Community Care, in partnership with Three Rivers District Health Department, to offer virtual treatment for Substance Abuse Disorder in these counties as well.

“The Institute of Health Innovation has been partnering with the rural counties in Northern Kentucky for the past several years to increase their capacity for healthcare,” Dr. Valerie Hardcastle, St. Elizabeth Healthcare executive director of the Institute for Health Innovation and NKU vice president for Health Innovation, said. “In collaboration with St. Elizabeth Healthcare and NorthKey Community Care, this grant will allow us to bring medical and behavioral health just-in-time support to residents in the region who might not otherwise be able to access services.”

Additionally, the grant will develop telemedicine and telehealth clinical and practicum sites for nursing and social work programs at NKU.

“Placing telemedicine and telehealth sites in schools, county health departments, and other local spaces means people can get assistance as they are going about their daily lives, instead of having to figure out how to transport themselves or their families to other counties for care,” Dr. Hardcastle said. “This grant will also allow NKU to train the next generation of healthcare providers in telehealth and telemedicine so that they will graduate ready for 21st century medicine.”

This project is part of a $50 million investment by the USDA’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program, which is funding 105 projects in 37 states and Puerto Rico. The program focuses on distance learning and telehealth services in rural communities that would otherwise have limited or no access to these services.

For more information on the Institute for Health Innovation at NKU, visit the IHI website.

About IHI: The Institute for Health Innovation at Northern Kentucky University was established in 2018 to encompass teaching, research, outreach, advocacy, and policy initiatives around population health. It drives change that directly addresses urgent unmet health needs.

About NKU: Founded in 1968, NKU is an entrepreneurial state university of over 16,000 students served by more than 2,000 faculty and staff on a thriving suburban campus nestled between Highland Heights, Kentucky and bustling downtown Cincinnati. We are a regionally engaged university committed to empowering our students to have fulfilling careers and meaningful lives. While we are one of the fastest-growing universities in Kentucky, our professors still know our students' names. For more information, visit