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Commissioner Miller Partners With Shriners Hospitals to Increase Access to Rural Health Care (10/1/2015)

Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller recognized the Shriners Hospitals for Children – Galveston for collaborating with the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) to provide world-class burn care to Texans living in rural communities across the state. On Monday, Sept. 28, Commissioner Miller met with hospital leaders to discuss the importance of the partnership between TDA’s State Office of Rural Health and Shriners’ Galveston Hospital to increase access to patient care in rural Texas. Commissioner Miller also discussed innovative techniques such as telemedicine, which will help treat critically burned children in need of immediate medical care who do not live close to a nearby hospital.    

“One of the challenges I have faced since becoming Agriculture Commissioner is convincing policymakers that rural health care is important to all Texans,” Commissioner Miller said. “Too many times, we forget that rural hospitals don’t just serve their nearby residents. They provide care in times of accidents, emergencies and life-threatening conditions faced by those traveling across our state and through rural areas. Rural health care is not just for rural residents; rather it is for all Texans.”

Designated by the American Burn Association and American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma as a Verified Pediatric Burn Care Center, Shriners Hospitals for Children in Galveston provides highly specialized acute, reconstructive and rehabilitative care for children with burns and other soft tissue conditions. Inpatient and outpatient units are designed to allow children to recover in a safe, family-centered environment. The world-class physicians, clinicians and researchers are committed to continuously providing advanced burn care and treatment to children from all over the world.

“The dedicated health care professionals at Shriners’ Galveston are extraordinary caregivers who perform miracles each and every day,” Commissioner Miller said. “They not only save lives, they also improve them. I am so proud that TDA is working closely with Shiners Hospital so that more Texans can benefit from the unique training and expertise of these world-renowned health care professionals.”       

Passed during the 84th legislative session, House Bill 479 requires the Commission on State Emergency Communications and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center to establish a pilot project to provide emergency medical services instruction and emergency pre-hospital care instruction through a telemedicine medical service. TDA recently awarded a grant to the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center for this pilot project. This project will implement telemedicine technology among EMS providers and trauma centers to connect them with specialty hospitals like Shriners Hospitals for Children.

“The people living in our rural communities are primarily contributors to our $115 billion agriculture sector, and we must take care of them,” Commissioner Miller said. “Partnerships and pilot projects focused on telemedicine will help provide access to medical care and save lives in rural Texas.”