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May 15, 2020

Collins, King Announce Nearly $190,000 for UNE to Support Maine’s Telehealth Infrastructure in Response to COVID-19

Washington. D.C. — U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King announced that the University of New England (UNE) will receive a total of $186,080 to increase telehealth capabilities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  This funding was awarded through the CARES Act, which Senators Collins and King voted for.

“Maine has the nation’s oldest population by median age, which presents unique challenges during the ongoing public health crisis.  In addition, many of Maine’s seniors reside in rural areas where there is often a lack of access to primary care,” said Senators Collins and King in a joint statement.  “This investment will help UNE continue to give medical professionals the tools and resources they need to safely provide quality care to their patients amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”

These investments will help train students, physicians, nurses, physician assistants, allied health and other high-demand professionals in telehealth.  This will enable these professionals to maximize telehealth for COVID-19 referrals for screening and testing, case management, outpatient care, and other essential care during the pandemic. 

Additionally, through increased telehealth capabilities from this funding, organizations will be able to maintain primary care services when clinics and medical facilities are not available, especially for COVID-19 positive, quarantined, elderly, and other vulnerable populations.

This funding was allocated through the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Bureau of Health Workforce (BHW) programs, including the Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program and the Area Health Education Centers Program.

Last year, Senators Collins and King announced nearly $800,000 for UNE’s Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP).  UNE, in collaboration with the University of Maine (UMaine), is working to improve the health and well-being of Maine’s older adults through enhanced practitioner training and the formation of a statewide council, AgingME.

The CARES Act also included legislation authored by Senators Collins and Bob Casey (D-PA), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Aging Committee, to increase the number of geriatric health professionals and direct service workers to support our aging population.  The Geriatrics Workforce Improvement Act authorized the Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP) for the next five years and also reinstated the Geriatrics Academic Career Awards program (GACA).

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