FCC issues $24.6M grant to New England telehealth group

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The New England Telehealth Consortium, based in Bangor, Me., has received a $24.6 million Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rural healthcare grant.

The grant is the largest issued by the FCC under the Rural Health Care Pilot Program. The Consortium's proposal called for the connection of rural and urban nonprofit healthcare centers in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

"The system that will be created will enable citizens, especially in rural areas of Maine, to receive top quality care through enhanced telemedicine and information sharing," Maine Gov. John E. Baldacci said.

The consortium said it will link regional healthcare providers with urban public practices, research institutions, academic institutions and medical specialists to provide greater efficiency in the sharing of information relevant to healthcare applications, eventually connecting with a similar network in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

The New England Telehealth Consortium consists of 31 members, representing 555 healthcare sites in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, including hospitals, the University of Maine in Orono, Me., the University of New England in Portland, Me., and The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Me.