BMCC Upgrades Broadband Capability for Health Care Education

Press Release Date: 

Blue Mountain Community College,

Date: September 9, 2010
Contact:  Karen L. Hill, Public Relations, 541-278-5933 or 541-379-2753



Approximately two years ago Blue Mountain Community College began work to implement broadband network upgrades under a $20 million Federal Communication Commission award to the Oregon Health Network for development of a broadband cable network to create statewide access to telemedicine and health care education at community colleges.

BMCC used the funding to pay 85 percent of much-needed broadband network improvements.  These improvements include a fiber optic line to the BMCC Baker County center and dedicated fiber optic line to our health education building at the Pendleton campus.

In addition to giving BMCC instructors additional speed and capacity to deliver online health education courses and high-resolution video conferencing, it enables students to experience how medical professionals are increasingly using the internet for remote diagnosis, patient consultation, and robotic medical procedures.

"A significant barrier we see is that rural and urban providers and educators often lack quality broadband access, equipment and resources," says Kim Lamb, OHN’s executive director. "Emerging technologies and applications can be challenging to implement and select, so we are all very excited that BMCC has joined a growing number of colleges, hospitals, clinics and nonprofit health centers in Oregon who are bringing technology to provide better care for patients."


The importance of these capabilities in health care education is clear to health care providers throughout rural Oregon.  St. Anthony Hospital, Good Shepherd Hospital and Wallowa Memorial Hospital are also upgrading their broadband capacity under the Oregon Health Network award.  BMCC works with each to provide trained licensed and technical staff.  According to Randy Mee, President and CEO of St. Anthony Hospital, "We are very fortunate to have BMCC in our area of operation.  They continue to provide nurses and other medical specialized personnel to serve our community’s healthcare needs."

Currently BMCC offers more than a dozen health care-related education programs and classes including nursing, dental assisting, medical laboratory technician, diagnostic imaging, emergency medical technician and certified nursing assistant.  Many include online content and some are delivered largely via distance education.

BMCC President John Turner emphasizes the need to invest in instructional capacity as the need for health care professionals increases in Oregon.  "We know how important this capability is now," said Turner, "and we can see that it will only grow as our communities demand ever-higher levels of health care, regardless of their rural location."