USDA Invests in Distance Learning and Telemedicine in Rural Areas

USDA Invests in Distance Learning and Telemedicine in Rural Areas
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November 19, 2015

US Department of Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that his agency will invest $23.4 million to expand distance learning and telemedicine opportunities in rural areas. The agency will finance 75 projects across 31 states and the Western Pacific. The announcement comes on November 19 which is National Rural Health Day.

"Rural communities often lack access to specialized medical care or advanced educational opportunities necessary for stronger rural economies," Vilsack said in a written statement. "These grants will help increase access to health care and many other essential services."

The grants, given through the USDA's Rural Development's Distance Learning and Telemedicine program, can be used to purchase equipment that make connectivity easier for historically disconnected communities.

Since 2009, USDA has provided more than $213 million in loans and grants for 634 distance learning and telemedicine projects in rural areas nationwide.

One of the recipients, the North Slope Borough (Alaska), is receiving a $420,027 grant to purchase video equipment to link six Native Alaskan clinics, four end-user sites and Samuel Simmonds Memorial Hospital. The project will increase access to emergency medical care, examinations, and behavioral health and specialized services.

Additionally, the Baptist Healthcare System, Inc. in Corbin, Ky., will receive a $182,566 grant to install teleconferencing and telehealth equipment for five facilities in medically underserved areas in rural southeastern Kentucky and east Tennessee.

To learn about more of the recipients, see the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant list.