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Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences

OSU Grant Boosts Rural Health Care Response to Bioterrorism Threats
Training began in January to give front line health care workers in rural Oklahoma continuing education in bioterrorism and disaster response. A $1.5 million training grant to Oklahoma Area Health Education Center (OKAHEC) at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences funds the new training in 22 community sites.

Training is aimed at physicians, nurses, allied health workers, mental health professionals, paramedical workers, emergency management technicians and pharmacists, along with veterinarians, morticians and administrators. It examines various bioterrorism scenarios such as diseases, anthrax, explosions, or radiation exposure, addressing both physical and mental health issues during the first few hours after the event, according to Richard Perry, M.A., the grant’s principal investigator.

The Oklahoma Statewide Bioterrorist Continuing Education Program grant is from the Health Resource Services Administration of the Department of Health and Human Service. It funds continuing education for 2,250 health professionals in rural Oklahoma who provide medical care after terrorism or a major public health disaster.

Training goals include recognizing indications of a terrorist event or public health emergency, meeting immediate acute care needs, alerting the public health system and ensuring a coordinated, multidisciplinary response.

“We focus on medical response during the four to six hours before back-up can reach a rural area. This looks at what should be done immediately,” said Perry.

The grant supports bioterrorism training and curriculum development among collaborative partners including OKAHEC, Oklahoma State Department of Health Bioterrorism Preparedness Division, Oklahoma Office of Rural Health, Oklahoma Rural Health Policy and Research Center, OSU Educational Television Services, OSU Educational Testing Services, OSU-Oklahoma City, OSU Telemedicine Center, private consultants and selected rural hospitals.

Why rural Oklahoma? “Oklahoma already has experienced terrorism. We have severe natural disasters that kill and injure people, and we have a number of military bases. Our rural communities need to be prepared,” Perry said.

Course formats include three 16-week semesters or three fast track, intensive training sessions. Methods of training include workshops, conferences, distance learning through interactive video-conferencing, self-study modules and community-based operational exercises. Participants also can choose a combination of the two formats. Primary training facilities are local rural hospitals or health departments.

Perry said the grant has an added benefit of trying out a new partnership of various agencies. “We are learning a lot about how to work together. We have started talking about how this partnership could and should be expanded.” He said the continuing education nature of the project opens the door to looking at other telemedicine or distance learning opportunities.

Bioterrorist Continuing Education Program target counties and hub communities include: Beckham - Elk City, Bryan - Duncan, Caddo - Anadarko, Carter - Ardmore, Cherokee - Tahlequah, Comanche - Lawton, Creek - Bristow, Custer - Weatherford, Garfield - Enid, Garvin - Duncan, Kay - Ponca City, Leflore - Talihina, McCurtain - Idabel, Mayes - Pryor, Okmulgee - Okmulgee, Payne - Stillwater, Pittsburg - McAlester, Pontotoc - Ada, Seminole - Seminole, Texas- Guymon, Washington - Bartlesville, and Woodward - Woodward.

When the series of training ends, a live mock bioterrorist event will be staged to reinforce and test skills.

Akdar Shrine Temple Breaks New Ground With Telemedicine Technology
One of Tulsa’s oldest fraternal philanthropies is on the leading edge of medical technology’s most talked-about new innovation.

The Akdar Shrine Temple this week opened the doors on its new Will Rogers Telemedicine Suite, making Tulsa’s Akdar Shrine the first Shriners organization out of 191 in North America to host the new “long distance” technology. Telemedicine works like a real-time videoconference, connecting patients to doctors in distant cities for follow-up consultations and examinations, reducing the need for exhausting travel. This technology is especially beneficial to the young patients Akdar Shrine serves – children under age 18 with severe orthopedic problems, burn injuries and other serious medical needs.

The telemedicine suite is made possible by a joint partnership of Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, Tulsa, and Tulsa Regional Medical Center. The three organizations collaborated to provide equipment, technicians and operations – at no cost to the Akdar Shriners or their patients.

“Until now, our patients had to take day-long drives to a Shriners Hospital for children in Galveston, Texas; Shreveport, La or St. Louis, Mo, for physician consultation and follow-up visits,” said Akdar Potentate Tom Henshaw. “The addition of the telemedicine suite allows our young patients and their families to spend more time recovering in the comfort of their home rather than worrying about the time and expense of travel.

“Our Oklahoma Shrine sponsored children won’t have to endure as many exhausting trips to distant hospitals, thanks to OU College of Medicine, OSU Telemedicine and Tulsa Regional Medical Center. Any monies saved by this technology will allow us to help more Oklahoma children. This is indeed a much-needed addition to our program, and we will be forever grateful,” Henshaw said.

Telemedicine equipment uses sophisticated real-time audio and video communications, allowing physicians to consult or examine patients from a remote location. Both the physician and the patient see each other on screen in real-time, making the examination accurate for the doctor and more comfortable for the patient. Additional cameras provide high resolution close-ups, allowing the physician to see details of the affliction or injury. A high-speed Internet connection allows the technician to share additional supporting materials such as patient records, charts or X-rays.

Because Tulsa’s Akdar is the first Shrine nationally to have telemedicine equipment in-house, many Shrine Temples and Officers will be monitoring their progress closely to better learn how to initiate similar programs in their locations.

OSU Telemedicine donated and installed all the new equipment. The University of Oklahoma will provide X-ray’s and medical assistance at their clinic located across the street from the Shrine. They will also provide trained medical personnel to assist during exams using the telemedicine clinic.

Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine and Tulsa Regional Medical Center will provide technicians and medical students to operate the equipment and communicate with physicians conducting the remote examination.

The tele-examination room, located inside Akdar Shrine at 28th and South Sheridan, will be dedicated the “Will Rogers Telemedicine Clinic” after Akdar’s most famous Shriner.

“Will Rogers has been called Oklahoma’s favorite son and we like to call him our favorite Shriner because he passionately promoted our pledge to help children in need,” said Henshaw.

Tulsa’s Akdar Shrine is a 92-year-old philanthropic fraternity with 2,200 members. They serve 1,020 active patients, many of whom will benefit from the new technology. Internationally, approximately 525,000 members belong to Shrine Temples throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Republic of Panama.

Shriners are best known for their Shriners Hospitals for Children that provide care, at no cost, to patients with severe orthopedic and burn injuries. They are often seen participating in colorful parades and wearing distinctive red fez hats.

OSU-CHS Impacts Rural Oklahoma Health Care
Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, and its nationally ranked medical school, is a long-recognized leader in the delivery of health care for Oklahomans.

Since 1972, the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine has prepared close to 2000 physicians and specialists, who have practices in small town and cities, serving literally hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans. US News and World Report has ranked OSU among the best in the nation for four consecutive years in family medicine and rural medicine.

With the medical school as its cornerstone, the campus includes graduate programs in biomedical sciences and forensics. The Oklahoma Rural Health Policy and Research Center serves as a "think tank" for rural health issues, and the OSU Telemedicine Center is a medical lifeline for the rural patient and physician. Thanks to video and audio technology, specialty consultations can occur within minutes and without the long drive to metropolitan areas.

The Center and its programs employ more than 350 people, with 60 full-time faculty members in basic and clinical sciences. There are three OSU Physician clinics in Tulsa serving more than 70,000 patients in areas such as family medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine and women's health. Clinical and biomedical research is conducted in subjects such as diabetes, artificial vision and brain injury. Prevention programs are offered in the community to address the dangers of tobacco, drugs, alcohol and gang violence.

OSU medical interns care for the majority of Tulsa's working poor and uninsured in their training programs. Approximately 50% of OSU doctors remain in Oklahoma to practice medicine, with an annual economic impact of roughly one million dollars per physician per community.

For more information, please visit:

USDA Rural Development (external link)

Oklahoma City Human Resources Society (external link)

Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance (external link)

i2E (external link)

Resources for Student Veterans and Active-Duty Military

Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council (external link)