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A Baton Rouge, La.-based data company set its sights on Jackson and announced on Tuesday it will build a technology center that, in part, will house one of the University of Mississippi Medical Center's fastest growing services - telehealth.
UMMC entered into a lease agreement with Venyu Solutions, LLC, which will construct a stand-alone, 16,000-square-foot facility to accommodate the increase in the services UMMC's Center for Telehealth provides to hospitals, clinics, corporations and patients across the state. The lease will begin on or around July 1, 2016.
The Venyu Technology Center will be constructed at the site of the former McRae's department store on the corner of Meadowbrook Road and State Street in the Fondren neighborhood. In addition to the new building, existing structures such as the former McRae's building will be renovated to host a data center for Venyu, with plans for other businesses in the future.
"Throughout the years, Venyu has provided data center services and other critical services to many health-care organizations, but few have embarked upon such an innovative approach to delivering medical advice and care," said Scott Thompson, founder and CEO of Venyu. "We are proud the University of Mississippi Medical Center has selected our new Technology Center in Jackson to help host their telehealth operations. We greatly look forward to the positive impact these new services will have within the community."
Gov. Phil Bryant
The technology center site falls in line with a health-care corridor that's been lauded by state leaders.
"Mississippi is a national leader in telehealth, and today's announcement marks an important step toward even more innovation and development," Gov. Phil Bryant said. "We are not only growing the medical corridor in the Jackson metro area, we are ensuring we have the infrastructure in place to develop new health-care solutions that can improve the lives of Mississippians."
Bryant said the new center will create nearly 400 jobs for Mississippians.
The repurposing of the now empty store and parking lot also falls in line with the revitalization of the city, a key goal celebrated by Jackson's leaders.
Yarber addresses the attendees of the groundbreaking ceremony
"As a city, we are extremely excited to see the expanding reach of the health-care corridor here in The Bold New City," said Mayor Tony Yarber. "This development speaks not only to economic growth and technical innovation but also to the developing workforce being trained by the great universities in our capital city.
"As this Telehealth Center is being developed, we are determined to ensure that progression and revitalization - such as this project - happen throughout Jackson, Mississippi," said Yarber, who added the city is also working to address infrastructure in the area as part of its master plan.
Most of the new technology center's structures already exist, but the building to house the UMMC Center for Telehealth is being specifically designed to meet the growing demand for the services around the state.
Henderson, center, speaks about UMMC's Center for Telehealth's plans for the new site
"The new space for UMMC's Center for Telehealth demonstrates our commitment to a healthier Mississippi," said Dr. Kristi Henderson, chief telehealth and innovation officer at UMMC. "We have to approach health care differently if we expect a different result.
"Telehealth allows us to bring health care to people in their community, at their workplace, schools or in their homes," she added. "This new center will give us the space to meet the demand and serve as a center of excellence for Mississippi's telehealth."
The telehealth program averages 8,000 consultations a month nowadays, said Henderson, pointing out that figure is a sign of healthy growth in UMMC's telehealth program.
These telehealth services specialize in online video and other technology that collects health-care data to provide medical care, wellness care and public health services. The program functions as a virtual clinic - including direct medical diagnostics and treatment from physicians, specialists, and nurses, and even dispensation of pharmaceuticals when appropriate.
The leased building is being constructed exclusively for the Center for Telehealth's expansion, including specifications designed for:
"This development is a wonderful marriage of high-tech, high-innovation activities that represents the economic future of Mississippi," said Dr. James E. Keeton, UMMC vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. "From our new Telehealth Center, we will literally be able to bring some form of health-care services to every Mississippian who has a network connection."
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