Letter: Your ZIP code shouldn't determine your healthcare outcomes
Panzier writes, "Helmsley Charitable Trust's Rural Healthcare Program has invested more than $100 million in telemedicine over the past dozen years, building a groundbreaking program that helps providers deliver top-notch care to residents regardless of the five digits on their address labels.
Over the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust’s 12 years of providing more than $550 million in grants across the upper Midwest, I’ve regularly used a phrase that expresses my desire to level the healthcare playing field for those living in rural America.
Your ZIP code shouldn't determine your healthcare outcomes.
They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so I’ll say I’m honored to see Sanford Health leaders in news stories adopting my oft-spoken mantra for their recent launch of a virtual care center that will serve people from across its network of hospitals and clinics.
Welcome to the show.
Rural America’s healthcare needs are great, and the Helmsley Charitable Trust, for which I serve as a trustee, eagerly welcomes even more investment in the ZIP codes we’ve been diligently serving since 2008.
Helmsley’s Rural Healthcare Program has invested more than $100 million in telemedicine over the past dozen years, building a groundbreaking program that helps providers deliver top-notch care to residents regardless of the five digits on their address labels. And to ensure that the next generation of telemedicine providers is as effective as the first, we’ve partnered with Harvard Medical Group, other pioneering organizations and some of the brightest minds in virtual care to create a world-class telehealth certificate program. The American Board of Telemedicine is the established gold-standard for training and certifying telemedicine providers, ensuring a high-quality and consistent standard of care.
Teleheath is just part of our ongoing commitment to the ZIP codes across rural America.
In 57501, we granted $10 million to fund a comprehensive cancer care center in Pierre, South Dakota, that offers nearby residents radiation oncology, a linear accelerator for radiation treatment and specialized infusion chairs, all set in a serene, calming environment.
Our Virtual Crisis Care pilot program has been providing South Dakota sheriff’s deputies 24/7 access to behavioral health professionals via tablets, deescalating emergencies from the state’s western edge in Nisland (57762) to the far northeast town of Summit (57266). Looking east into rural upper northwest Minnesota, we helped bring digital mammography to Sanford Thief River Falls Medical Center in 56701.
In Wyoming’s 82414, Helmsley granted $1.5 million to help Cody Regional Health outfit a state-of-the-art catheterization laboratory. The center allows doctors to perform life-saving diagnostic and surgical procedures, including cardiac catheterizations, pacemaker placements, and defibrillator placements using the newest technologies.
During my years as a paramedic, firefighter and law enforcement officer, I saw first-hand the disparities between the quality of care offered in urban centers and their rural counterparts. Those experiences helped prompt our First Responder AED Initiative, which is saving lives across the 57000s of South Dakota, the 58000s of North Dakota, the 59000s of Montana, the 82000s of Wyoming, the 68000s and 69000s of Nebraska and the 50000s, 51000s and 52000s of Iowa. Helmsley has granted more than $34 million to provide more than 13,000 automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) to law enforcement agencies and other first responders throughout those six states to provide rapid cardiac arrest response. We’ve documented officers using AEDs saving dozens of lives, from 82443 (Thermopolis, Wyoming) to 52722 (Scott County, Iowa).
America offers no shortage of rural ZIP codes dotting our land from the redwood forests to the Gulf Stream waters. The Helmsley Charitable Trust welcomes all to join the ongoing efforts to ensure that whether you work in the heart of New York City or farm in rural Nebraska, your access to quality care is equitable. The work extends far beyond a marketing slogan, and we look forward to seeing what more can be accomplished in this crucial area.
Walter Panzirer is a trustee for the Helmsley Charitable Trust.
This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.