Walter Panzirer and Helmsley Receive ATA Humanitarian Award
The Helmsley Charitable Trust is working to improve individual, community, and population health in rural America through telehealth.
Helmsley Trustee Walter Panzirer accepted the American Telemedicine Association’s (ATA) 2018 Humanitarian Award for Helmsley’s work in telemedicine at their Annual Conference and Expo on April 29 in Chicago. The ATA’s Annual Conference draws thousands of healthcare leaders for the only national event focused exclusively on telemedicine. According to the ATA website, the Humanitarian Award “honors the dedication of persons and organizations who reach out to underserved populations or people in crisis, utilizing the unique attributes of telemedicine technology.”
“Technology plays an increasingly significant role in all our lives,” said Peter Yellowlees, MBBS, MD, president of ATA and professor of psychiatry and vice chair for faculty development at the University of California, Davis. “Now, more than ever, it’s imperative that healthcare evolve to meet the needs of informed and mobile consumers. This year’s awardees have done important work to pave the way for telehealth to have an even greater positive impact on individual, community and population health.”
“I hope our work has modeled how my personal passion, a healthcare system’s mission, and philanthropy can come together, take an idea, mobilize it, perfect it and scale it – all with one goal of improving healthcare in rural America,” said Panzirer.
ATA Board Chairman, Grant Chamberlain noted that in its first nine years, Helmsley has made a significant impact on healthcare. “I initially became aware of the Helmsley Charitable Trust and Walter Panzirer’s rural health efforts in telemedicine through his passionate efforts in supporting Avera eCare,” said Chamberlain. “Helmsley understood the impact these programs would have on community-based hospitals.”
Helmsley’s Rural Healthcare Program works in seven upper Midwest states. Panzirer’s passion for rural healthcare stems from his previous experience as a paramedic, firefighter, and police officer, which fueled his interest in emergency care, he said.
Through Helmsley’s efforts, small, rural hospitals have been connected to a larger urban provider to improve care locally via telemedicine. Early Helmsley grants helped build out the Avera eCare program to expand beyond its own system. Today, Helmsley continues to provide grants for rural Critical Access Hospitals to implement eCare services, which improve emergency care and access to specialists for rural residents.
To date, Helmsley’s investments in eCare in the region are approaching $74 million, and its total grant support of $333 million is improving care across Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Wyoming, and Minnesota.
In accepting the award for Helmsley’s work, Panzirer said Helmsley was committed to improving healthcare in rural America.
“People should have access to healthcare where and when they need it, no matter where they call home,” said Panzirer. “My passion to improve access to healthcare in rural America spurred Helmsley’s telemedicine initiative. Telemedicine allows us to lessen the role geography plays in rural healthcare. Where you live should not determine whether you live or die when you face a medical emergency, nor the quality of care you receive.”
With its partners, Helmsley is making great strides in delivering quality, affordable healthcare in some of the most remote regions of the country, he added.
“I hope our work has modeled how my personal passion, a healthcare system’s mission, and philanthropy can come together, take an idea, mobilize it, perfect it and scale it – all with one goal of improving healthcare in rural America,” said Panzirer. “I am confident the success of Helmsley’s partnership with Avera eCare can inspire others to take risks with trusted partners to build innovative and successful programs.”
*Helmsley Trustee Walter Panzirer (left) accepts the 2018 ATA Humanitarian Award from Marlon Harvey, Global Solutions Portfolio Leader and Healthcare Architect of Cisco, in a ceremony on April 29 at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.