Updated: November 28, 2020 06:16 PM
Created: November 28, 2020 06:14 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The University of New Mexico recently secured a $237 million deal with the federal government to help train health care workers at retirement homes.
The training will be provided through UNM’s Project ECHO, a telemedicine mentorship program that aims to provide best care practices to patients regardless of where they live.
The project was started back in 2003 after Dr. Sanjeev Arora noticed a lot of patients with Hepatitis C were dying from liver disease and cirrhosis
“They were all over the state of New Mexico, but there was an eight-month wait to see me and of 28,000 patients with Hepatitis C, less than 1,500 have been treated and hundreds were dying every year, and I was trying to figure out how do I get this treatment to everyone in New Mexico when there were no specialists in rural areas,” Dr. Arora said.
The doctor developed the ECHO Model, which consists of four ideas.
“I would use technology to leverage the expertise of a specialist like me, a gastroenterologist, a psychiatrist and a pharmacist, and I set up 21 new Centers of Excellence for treating Hepatitis C in New Mexico,” he explained.
Dr. Arora ran weekly teleclinics to help more physicians become experts.
“We currently operate out of 45 countries, and learners in 165 countries, and in 2020 about 750,000 healthcare workers, doctors, nurses, community health workers have participated in ECHO projects and learned and received mentoring to provide better health care in their communities,” he said.
When the feds needed someone to help training nursing home staff, the ECHO Project used their National Nursing Home COVID-19 Action Network.
“All across the United States for 15,400 nursing homes on how to prevent infection from coming into the nursing home, how to care for the patient once they are infected in the nursing home. Once the infection is in the nursing home, how do we prevent it from spreading to all other patients or rest or residents in the nursing home. How do we protect the staff from getting infection?” the doctor said.
The group helped connect dozens of nursing homes with their local academic center to help implement best practices. In two months, they’ve helped 8,000 nursing homes in all 50 states.
“Of the 255,000 deaths that have occurred from COVID-19 in the United States, more than 90,000 have occurred in nursing homes. And this has been really a great tragedy for the country because less than half a percent of the population of the United States lives in nursing homes, and more than 35% of the deaths are in nursing homes,” Dr. Arora said.
Dr. Arora hopes fewer deaths will occur after nursing homes facilities receive more training and resources.
He was named the 2021 Brock Prize Laureate in Education Innovation because of his work at the ECHO Institute.
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