The Northwest Pennsylvania AIDS Alliance will receive a Special Project of National Significance award of $45,188 in federal funds from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to create a new computer network to serve its providers and clients.
Jody Gift, information technology technician for the Alliance, completed the successful HRSA application that brought in 100 percent federal funding for the project. The money will be used to purchase hardware and software equipment, install it, and configure a network to allow the Alliance’s health care providers real-time access to the Lab Tracker database housed on the file server in the central office.
“Northwest Pennsylvania AIDS Alliance received HRSA grant funding for 2001-10, so we are on the mailing list for any additional grant opportunities,” said Gift. “When our director, Jeff Curtis, received a notice about the award last September he passed it along to me, noting that they fund only special projects of national significance.”
Gift prepared a narrative describing the project and a line item budget and budget justification,. Mike Phillips, manager of technology infrastructure services for Clarion University Computer Services, helped to determine the type of hardware that would be needed and the hours of labor needed to complete the project. Gift submitted the application in February.
HRSA eventually awarded $4.5 million in grants to projects across the U.S., including the Alliance’s networking grant. The award will be received Sept. 1 and must be used by Aug. 30, 2010.
“This is something we have really wanted to do for a while,” said Gift. “We were in the process of trying to do this piece meal, but this grant will make it quicker and easier.”
Once the Alliance can start drawing on the funds in September, it anticipates having the system operational within a couple of months. Training in the use of the system will be conducted by telephone.
“Jody did a tremendous job of conceiving the idea, finding a funding sources, and writing a successful grant application,” said Curtis. “This going to make our clinical people so much more productive, being able to connect in real time from the rural parts of our service region.”
Equipment to be purchased include: a new file server, laptop computers, mobile printers, a firewall switch, terminal server licenses and a new hub so the nurses, medical service coordinator and subcontracted physicians can access the Lab Tracker database remotely in real time.
The Alliance has been using Lab Tracker software to improve the quality of care provided to its patients and to evaluate its service delivery program since 1999. The health care providers must travel to remote locations of Northwest Pennsylvania to provide care to patients scattered throughout a large, rural geographic area.
The Alliance currently uses Lab Tracker software installed on a file server in a central office to collect client-level data. The health care providers, however, have to synchronize the data from the server to their individual laptops to take with them to the remote clinic locations. After providing health care to the patients at the clinics and returning back to the central office, the data has to be synchronized back onto the file server. This has resulted in lost and corrupted data. The subcontracted physicians currently have no way of accessing the patient data in real time. Because of the lack of Internet access in the remote locations, the health care providers cannot transmit pre scri ptions electronically when the physician prescribes medications.
The Northwest Alliance is a grant-funded program of Clarion University. The Alliance, which began operations 18 years ago, provides medical case management services, medical care, supportive services and prevention education to those afflicted with or affected by HIV and AIDS. The Alliance serves a 13 county region in northwest Pennsylvania. The
Northwest Alliance is also funded by the Ryan White Care Act and by state funds provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Dr. Woodrow Yeaney serves as executive director for the Alliance.