The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust has awarded Ortonville Area Health Services (OAHS) $102,614 in grant funds to purchase ultrasound machines as part of a $26.4 million ultrasound initiative in Minnesota. The initiative includes nearly $18.3 million to help Minnesota hospitals and health centers purchase ultrasound imaging devices and an additional $8.1 million to boost sonography and point of care ultrasound (POCUS) training opportunities across the state.
The grant funds have allowed OAHS to purchase two new ultrasound machines: a GE Voluson Swift Ultrasound and a GE Venue Go Premier Ultrasound. These point-of-care ultrasounds are increasingly mobile and allow for fast assessment of patients. Dr. David Collins, Emergency Medicine Physician at OAHS, notes, “Point-of-care ultrasound has become increasingly utilized in the clinic, hospital, and emergency department setting across the U.S. The latest ultrasound technology provides even better imaging quality as well as tools to assist us with making faster and more accurate diagnoses. Formal ultrasound is not always readily available in our community but with point-of-care ultrasound technology, we are able to get the ball rolling to initiate treatment while waiting for the complete study to be done at a later date. This is an exciting time to be in medicine and for our community as a whole!”
Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of structures inside the body. This safe, cost-effective tool supports other clinical information to help providers make timely diagnoses and provide appropriate treatment.
Walter Panzirer, a Trustee for the Helmsley Charitable Trust, said the grants will help improve access to exceptional medical treatment for all Minnesotans, whether they live in the heart of Minneapolis or a smaller rural or underserved community.
“Our hospitals and health centers need to stay current with rapidly advancing technology so they can continue to provide top-notch healthcare close to home,” Panzirer said. “These grants help ensure that facilities across Minnesota have the latest and greatest ultrasound equipment and training.”
More than half of the 196 devices purchased through the grants (109) are POCUS machines, which are used by providers at the bed or tableside for immediate assessment of a patient to quickly determine a course of action. The grants will also provide 69 general ultrasound systems and 18 cardiovascular ultrasound systems, which aid in imaging of the heart.
The initiative also includes more than $8.1 million to train new sonographers, offer continuing education to sonographers and ultrasound technologists, and provide comprehensive POCUS training to doctors, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners. The training grants include more than $917,000 to the Minnesota Rural Health Association to support sonographer training in rural and underserved areas of the state, more than $1 million to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities to expand St. Cloud Technical and Community College’s sonography program, and nearly $6.2 million to the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians Foundation which will partner with High Quality Medical Education (HQMEDED) to provide POCUS training across the state.
“These grants are a game-changer for rural hospitals across the state,” said Thomas Pahl, PA-C, an emergency department clinician, instructor with HQMEDED, and member of the Minnesota State Trauma Advisory Council. “Clinicians and sonographers will not only have access to the newest ultrasound equipment on the market, but they will also be able to pursue educational opportunities to become more proficient at use of the equipment, expand the studies they can perform, and incorporate these skills into their clinical practices.”