The award is part of the USDA's Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants Program

ROCKFORD, Illinois—Congressman Eric Sorensen (IL-17) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced $218,000 for OSF HealthCare to expand telehealth services to families in rural communities across central and northern Illinois.

“Telemedicine plays a key role in keeping health care costs down and ensuring more families have access to reliable care, regardless of their ZIP code,” said Sorensen. “Through administering telehealth programs in central and northern Illinois, OSF HealthCare makes our rural communities a priority. I am proud to support their work from Washington and make sure rural communities are healthy and strong for the future.”

“We are profoundly grateful for the grant funds that have enabled us to launch the OSF OnCall Digital Hospital program in Rockford," said Melissa Meier, manager of Digital Care, OSF OnCall. "This initiative connects patients to hospital-level care from the comfort of their own home and has extended equity to rural communities in the region by offering access to high-quality, acute care 24/7. The funding is supporting technology and equipment to leverage a hybrid model of telehealth and in-person care that is safe, effective and offers patients and providers an enhanced experience.”

This award comes as part of USDA’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants Program and will allow OSF HealthCare Saint Anthony Medical Center to equip two sites, one in Winnebago County and one in Peoria County, with technologies needed to virtually offer hospital-level care in patients’ home.

This investment will specifically connect patients within 30 minutes of one of these sites, benefiting 50 communities within Winnebago, Stephenson, Ogle, Boone, Dekalb, McHenry, Peoria, Stark, Tazewell, Woodford, Fulton and Mason counties. The total population of the communities impacted is more than 272,000.

Sorensen serves on the House Committee on Agriculture and the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Prior to serving in Congress, Sorensen was a local meteorologist in Rockford and the Quad Cities for nearly 20 years. His district includes Illinois’ Quad Cities, Rockford, Peoria and Bloomington-Normal.