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Higgins, People Inc. announce $2 million to expand telehealth for seniors & people with disabilities


Tue, Apr 4th 2023 02:05 pm

Budget funding secured by Higgins will allow for expansion of People Inc.’s virtual health care services

Congressman Brian Higgins secured $2 million in the federal 2023 budget to expand and improve telehealth services for Western New York senior citizens, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, people who are deaf and hard of hearing, and people with Alzheimer’s. The funding will support People Inc.’s model addressing health equity among vulnerable populations.

“We know that access to routine and preventative services is a determining factor in health and well-being,” Higgins said. “People with disabilities have unique needs and circumstances, creating additional hurdles to connecting with quality care. This funding for People Inc. will break through health access barriers for families, improving wellness and life quality for the people of Western New York.”

Higgins’ team said, “Utilization of telehealth grew drastically during the pandemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 37% of all Americans used telehealth in 2021. When implemented correctly, telehealth can be an especially useful tool for individuals with chronic conditions and disabilities.

“People Inc.’s telehealth service, in partnership with Virtual Medical Care, is designed to support a patient’s ability to live independently while promoting better individual outcomes and overall wellness.

“For medically complex patients, there are many benefits. Telehealth allows for more consistent health monitoring and improved stability of care for people with chronic conditions. For those who are immune-compromised, virtual appointments reduce unnecessary exposure. It eases family and caregiver participation in health discussions for seniors with dementia, or individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Virtual visits also reduce delays in care, eliminate office wait times, and lower stress by facilitating appointments in the comfort of one’s home.

“Accessing health care is often challenging for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing due to language barriers with providers. Through a partnership between People Inc. and Deaf Access Services, American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation skills are incorporated into virtual visits, eliminating communication barriers for individuals with hearing challenges.”

Anne McCaffrey, president and CEO of People Inc., said, “We are so appreciative of Congressman Higgins for securing this funding, which will help People Inc. to greatly expand the impactful work clinicians are providing to people, their families and caregivers. As we continue to focus on increasing access to care, and removing health-care barriers, this grant will allow further opportunities to offer expert, face-to-face care to vulnerable people right in their homes.”

Added Rhonda Frederick, “From his professional and personal experiences – and throughout his public service career, Congress member Higgins has been a champion for people with Alzheimer’s and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We are grateful for what he and his staff do for the betterment of the people we serve.”

Higgins’ team said, “This federal investment also delivers cost savings to the health care system and patients alike, reducing emergency room visits; monitoring health to prevent exacerbating conditions, which then require more costly treatment; and eliminating additional expenses associated with in-person visits such as transportation and child care.”

Pictured: Rep. Brian Higgins, Anne McCafffrey, Rhonda Frederick, and members of the People Inc. virtual care team. (Submitted)

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