Innovative COVID-19 Programs to Rapidly Serve New Mexico: Project ECHO

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Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) at the University of New Mexico is a telementoring program that uses videoconferencing technology to connect health care providers in underserved communities with subject matter experts. In March 2020, Project ECHO created 10 coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) telementoring programs to meet the public health needs of clinicians and teachers living in underserved rural and urban regions of New Mexico. The newly created COVID-19 programs include 7 weekly sessions (Community Health Worker [in English and Spanish], Critical Care, Education, First- Responder Resiliency, Infectious Disease Office Hours, and Multi- specialty) and 3 one- day special sessions. We calculated the total number of attendees, along with the range and standard deviation, per session by program. Certain programs (Critical Care, Infectious Disease Office Hours, Multi- specialty) recorded the profession of attendees when available. The Project ECHO research team collected COVID-19 infection data by county from March 11 through May 31, 2020. During that same period, 9765 health care and general education professionals participated in the COVID-19 programs, and participants from 31 of 35 (89%) counties in New Mexico attended the sessions. Our initial evaluation of these programs demonstrates that an interprofessional clinician group and teachers used the Project ECHO network to build a community of practice and social network while meeting their educational and professional needs. Because of Project ECHO’s large reach, the results of the New Mexico COVID-19 response suggest that the rapid use of ECHO telementoring could be used for other urgent national public health problems.