Libraries across Louisiana will soon start offering access to free telehealth services as part of $50,000 worth of grants from The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation through the State Library of Louisiana.
In 2022, ConnectLA worked with the Blue Cross Foundation to address the need for better access to telehealth services as they became more widely adopted in the state. ConnectLA and the Blue Cross Foundation saw the State Library as a unique institution found in many communities.
Eleven library systems across Louisiana will start offering free telehealth services.
“Telehealth can be incredibly convenient and, for many patients, can be a much quicker and more comfortable way to access care that’s just as effective as an in-person visit,” said Michael Tipton, president of the Blue Cross Foundation. “Research demonstrates that when folks have access to a doctor virtually, they are more likely to access care.”
Medical equipment such as fingertip pulse oximeters, portable EKG monitors, laptops and tablets, and private booths in libraries for community members to meet virtually with their doctors will all be a part of the new services, according to a press release from Louisiana Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser.
“These grants present an opportunity to serve our citizens in additional ways,” Nungesser said. “This will break down barriers that many people face when it comes to their health. Time, location and money are major factors. These grants remove all of them.”
Rural communities face many challenges when it comes to receiving healthcare and addressing the issue requires unique solutions, said Veneeth Lyengar, Executive Director of ConnectLa.
“Addressing healthcare challenges in rural Louisiana requires innovative partnerships in both broadband access and adoption,” Lyengar said. “In drafting the state’s first five-year action plan to address the digital divide, we prioritized the healthcare access gap by increasing broadband availability for telehealth solutions. This partnership is a significant first step in addressing these issues, and we are proud to make this happen.”
Below is a list of all of the library systems statewide expected to offer telehealth services:
East Carroll Parish
St. John the Baptist Parish
West Baton Rouge Parish
“It’s been a long time since libraries were simply a place to check out books or do research,” said Interim State Librarian Meg Placke. “They are community hubs where people can access services they might not otherwise be able to afford, such as high-speed internet. These grants are just the latest way our state’s libraries are serving their patrons, and there are few needs as important as access to healthcare.”
If your local library is expected to offer the new telehealth services, you can find a full list of Louisiana public libraries along with contact information on the State Library of Louisiana’s website.