The AEP Foundation recently donated $1 million to Nationwide Children’s Hospital to support the expansion of its telemedicine services into rural areas of southeast Ohio. Telemedicine removes public health barriers such as transportation, time off from work and/or school for children and families seeking care.
Access to pediatricians and pediatric specialists is a challenge for families living in rural parts of Ohio. This insufficiency of care providers increases wait times for children to be seen, increases the burden on families and caregivers and diminishes the quality of life for these children.
“This program brings specialized pediatric healthcare services to families who today cannot travel easily to Columbus for medical care,” said Nicholas K. Akins, chairman of the AEP Foundation and president and chief executive officer of AEP. “High-quality healthcare is fundamental to the growth and development of children, and we’re proud to be a part of an innovative program that fills a need for people in rural areas who cannot easily travel long distances for health services.”
“We are very grateful to the AEP Foundation for their generous donation,” said Steve Allen, MD, chief executive officer at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “This support will help us expand telemedicine service lines into the rural areas of Ohio by bringing needed subspecialty and ancillary services to the region.”
Nationwide Children’s is the closest pediatric hospital to families living in the majority of southeast Ohio counties. On average, families travel more than 100 miles, primarily on secondary roads, in order for their children to be seen by pediatric specialists. This travel results in loss of work days for parents, loss of school days for patients and unnecessary travel costs.
“The philanthropic commitment of corporate partners like AEP Foundation is an example of the extraordinary generosity of our community,” said Jim Digan, Nationwide Children’s Hospital Foundation President.
“Through our experience, we know that telemedicine is a reliable program to address issues such as access to care,” said Gil Peri, Vice President of Regional Development at Nationwide Children’s. “AEP Foundation’s support will enable us to address these health disparities experienced by families living in rural areas of Ohio by providing quality healthcare services in an effective and timely manner.”
Currently, Medicaid and the State of Ohio are working on reimbursement mechanisms for telemedicine services as they are not reimbursable at this time.
The AEP Foundation focuses on improving lives through education from early childhood through higher education in the areas of science, technology, engineering, math and the environment and by meeting basic needs for emergency shelter, affordable housing and the elimination of hunger. Other support may be offered to protect the environment, support healthcare and safety and enrich life through art, music and cultural heritage.