Helmsley Trust donates $7.8 million to Avera for telemedicine care

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - The Helmsley Charitable Trust is once again stepping up to the plate to help Avera Health treat patients in the Midwest.

On Wednesday, the trust announced the donation of a $7.8 million grant to Avera Health to help advance its telemedicine program.

Avera officials say the grant will go toward building a 24-hour telemedicine behavioral health team as part of Avera eCARE. This team will give patients access to behavioral health services remotely via telemedicine.

Deanna Larson, CEO of Avera eCARE, says there is a growing shortage of psychiatric care. This gap can be even wider in rural areas, and programs like eCARE can help that disparity.

Larson said in time, Avera eCARE will also provide mobile support to first responders encountering individuals in crisis.

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helsmley Trust previously donated millions of dollars to create a new cancer care facility in Pierre.