It is one of two major grants that total nearly $10 million for the program, which aims to expand specialized health care in rural areas.
Project ECHO, or Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes, helps doctors in rural communities work with doctors at UNM on specialty care treatments. The program started as a way to provide expert health care for hepatitis C in hard-to-access areas but has grown to include other chronic and complex diseases. It also provides training for physicians around the state.
The $5 million grant, from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, will be used to create the ECHO Institute at UNM, which will train other programs and institutions around the world on starting their own ECHO Project. The program also recently received a three-year $4.7 million grant from the GE Foundation that will help administrators develop ways to integrate behavioral health with primary care delivery.
Project ECHO will use those funds to train nurse practitioners and other health care providers to screen, diagnose and treat mental illness and substance abuse in New Mexico. The providers will be in eight community health centers across the state and will work with specialists at UNM via teleconference clinics.
“We are energized to undertake the new work being funded,” Project ECHO founder Sanjeev Arora said. “Our goal for Project ECHO is to create a new operating platform for our health care system so that it can do more good for more patients, without expending additional resources. These two new grants will help us meet that mission.”