SAINT THOMAS HEALTH EXPANDS BROADBAND CAPABILITIES TO RURAL COMMUNITIES WITH VIRTUAL CLASSROOM

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Nov. 17, 2011 - Saint Thomas Health Regional Network Services recently installed a high-definition mobile videoconferencing system that will serve as a "virtual classroom" at Perry County High School. The equipment was purchased as part of a three year, $600,000 Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant from the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

The videoconferencing system will provide students with unique learning opportunities that are not normally offered inside the classroom. The interactive virtual classroom allows physicians and other health professionals to broadcast lectures from the main location at Saint Thomas Hospital and facilitate a live question and answer forum without ever leaving the hospital.

"Many rural areas are lacking the opportunities afforded by broadband for improved education and health care," said Ranee Curtis, executive director of Saint Thomas Health Network Services.

Plans are also being made for community education through use of this technology. Since the videoconferencing system is mobile, it can be moved to an appropriate destination inside Perry County High School that will allow members of the community to attend educational sessions facilitated by health care professionals at Saint Thomas Health. This eliminates the cost of time and travel for the hospital staff and residents of Perry County.

Future plans include installing similar systems in other rural areas and broadcasting to those already in place. These capabilities allow Saint Thomas Health's medical experts to reach a larger base of students, as well as the communities across Middle Tennessee with life-saving educational programs about chest pain, stroke, heart failure and other medical issues.

"The possibilities are endless," added Curtis. "Our goal is to improve access to care by motivating health care students to seek employment in rural communities."

Saint Thomas Regional Network Services includes the Saint Thomas Chest Pain Network, Saint Thomas Stroke Network, and Saint Thomas Rural Outreach Heart Failure Clinics, all part of Saint Thomas Health, which operates in conjunction with regional facilities to improve processes that assess, diagnose and treat acute coronary syndrome and stroke. The Tennessee Rural Workforce Development Network was formed as a direct result of these funds and also includes Columbia State Community College, Tennessee Association of Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) and Lawrence County EMS.

For more information about Saint Thomas Regional Network Services, please visit www.sths.com/networkservices.

Saint Thomas Health is a faith-based ministry with more than 6,500 associates serving Middle Tennessee. Saint Thomas Health's regional health system consists of four hospitals - Baptist and Saint Thomas in Nashville, Middle Tennessee Medical Center in Murfreesboro and Hickman Community Hospital in Centerville - and a comprehensive network of affiliated joint ventures in diagnostics, cardiac services and ambulatory surgery as well as medical practices, the Center for Spinal Surgery, clinics and rehabilitation facilities. Saint Thomas Health is a member of Ascension Health, a Catholic organization that is the largest not-for-profit health system in the United States. For more information, visit http://www.sths.com.

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