St. Scholastica gets second federal grant for assistance in electronic health records programs

The College of St. Scholastica will receive a second federal grant in September to continue its assistance of rural health care facilities in the implementation of new electronic records programs.

Three faculty members from the school — Marty Witrak, Shirley Eichenwald and Ryan Sandefer — are compiling a list of best practices for medical practitioners that are beginning to use new programs which remove the need for added paper-work and provides patient records on demand.

St. Scholastica will get $200,000 to assist St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Brainerd, Minn., for about one year. The school is currently finishing a one-year, $240,000 grant with the Riverwood Health System in Aitkin and McGregor.

“It’s important for rural health care systems because they can’t always afford to buy the technology and have support,” said Witrak, dean of the college’s school of nursing. “This will help bring the latest technology to them and to use it well in those facilities.”

The school will issue reports once the Riverwood project is complete and has filed for another federal grant next year.

The program is part of the Minnesota Department of Health’s Electronic Health Initiative that mandates the use of these programs by 2015, Witrak said.

“Minnesota has been very forward thinking on this,” Witrak said.

The programs can lessen the need to fill out paperwork with every doctor’s visit, allows doctors and nurses to call up re-cords once the patient enters the examination or emergency room and can cut down on medication mishaps, Witrak said.