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The Project ECHO team participating in an ECHO session on the OSU-CHS campus.
Project ECHO uses telecommunication to bring a team of specialists together with health care providers.

OSU Medicine's Project ECHO launches COVID-19 service line

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Governor Kevin Stitt declared a state of emergency for all 77 Oklahoma counties due to coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns on March 15, 2020.

In response and in an effort to rapidly disseminate as much information as possible on best practices for hospitals and health care providers, Dr. Kayse Shrum, president of Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, directed the creation of a Project ECHO COVID-19 service line that can address the resources needed for Oklahoma’s rural health systems.

“As a publicly supported academic health center, it’s our obligation at OSU Medicine to step up to meet the challenges presented by the COVID-19 health crisis. As Governor Stitt’s Secretary of Science and Innovation and a member of his Solution Task Force on COVID-19, we are charged with deploying as quickly as possible all available resources across the state to help abate the disease in light of its rapid onset,” said Shrum.

The goal of the Project ECHO COVID-19 service line is to assist rural practitioners, hospitals, nursing homes, and even state and local stakeholders in policy and appropriations in meeting the challenges the disease is placing on rural communities and health systems.

The Project ECHO COVID-19 service line launched March 20 with more than 150 participating organizations, representing physicians’ groups, critical access hospitals and nursing and extended care facilities,” said Dr. Joseph Johnson, associate dean for Project ECHO at OSU Center for Health Sciences.

The COVID-19 Oklahoma update ECHO will be held weekly, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8:30 a.m. The sessions are for health workers. You must register to participate.

“The goal with this ECHO program is to address the changes in health practice, and provide information necessary to flatten the curve of spread in our communities,” Johnson said.

“The growing COVID-19 pandemic is affecting Americans of all ages, with, according to the CDC, older adults and those with serious underlying medical conditions considered most at risk,” said Tara M. Jackson, DrPH, executive director of OSU-CHS Project ECHO.

“This is a rapidly evolving situation and our expert COVID-19 Oklahoma Update ECHO team closely monitors the prevalence and transmission rates of the virus and shares knowledge with healthcare providers across Oklahoma of best-practices in the diagnosis, treatment and containment of this disease. That’s how Project ECHO is responding to meet needs of our State,” Jackson said.

The OSU Project ECHO (Extension for Community Health Outcomes) program is a collaborative model of medical education and care management that empowers clinicians in rural and underserved communities to provide specialty care to more people right where they live. Through the use of technology, Project ECHO connects an interdisciplinary team at the OSU Center for Health Sciences with community providers to discuss treatment for chronic and complex medical conditions.

COVID-19, or the Coronavirus disease as it is commonly referred to, is a contagious respiratory disease that was first detected in China in December of 2019 and now has impacted the world as well as Oklahoma. While considered a “novel” coronavirus, meaning it is a new form of a virus, it is currently being tracked as a life-threatening disease with an expanding nature to counties throughout Oklahoma.

“Although, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expects widespread transmission of COVID-19 in our country,” said Dr. Gitanjali Pai, an infectious disease specialist at Stillwell Memorial Hospital. “Being prepared in our rural communities will decrease the mortality rates. Pai is one of the experts leading the Project ECHO COVID-19 service line.

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