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USDA Funding to Expand Health Care Access in Rural Missouri

Lindsay Cheek
Release Date

Over 200,000 Rural Missourians to Benefit from Distance Learning and Telemedicine Investments  

   COLUMBIA, Mo., Nov. 20, 2019 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Missouri State Director Jeff Case today announced USDA is investing over $500,000 in two distance learning and telemedicine projects in Missouri.  USDA is providing the funding through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grant program. 

   “Virtual healthcare, made possible through e-Connectivity, is quickly becoming a more affordable and convenient healthcare option,” said Case.  “USDA is pleased to partner with Mercy Virtual and Salem Memorial District Hospital who are working to ensure Missouri’s rural residents have access to healthcare even when doctors may be far away.”

   Mercy Virtual will use a $496,349 grant to enable Mercy ACO Clinical Services to implement a telemedicine project.  Video equipment will be placed in nine communities in ten Missouri counties. Over 210,000 community residents will be served.

   Salem Memorial District Hospital will use an $80,604 grant to implement technology necessary to connect rural Missouri schools in Dent, Reynolds, Iron, and Shannon Counties to affiliated hospitals Phelps Health Hospital and SSM Health in St. Louis, Mo. Using HIPAA compliant audio-visual software and hardware, the project will increase accessibility and quality of healthcare service for 2,297 rural Missouri students.

   Today’s announcement is in coordination with USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Donald “DJ” LaVoy’s announcement that the department is investing is investing $42.5 million in 133 distance learning and telemedicine projects in 37 states and two U.S. territories. 

   “USDA is supporting e-Connectivity projects that will make it easier for thousands of rural residents to take advantage of economic, health care and educational opportunities without having to travel long distances,” LaVoy said. Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA is committed to partnering with rural communities to help them improve their infrastructure, because when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”

   Applicants eligible for Distance Learning and Telemedicine grants include most State and local governmental entities, federally-recognized tribes, nonprofits, for-profit businesses and consortia of eligible entities.

   In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force. 

   To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).

   USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas.

   Contact USDA Rural Development 

   Information on programs available through USDA Rural Development is available by visiting www.rd.usda.gov/mo or by calling (573) 876-0976.

   USDA Rural Development has 25 offices across the state to serve the 2.2 million residents living in rural Missouri.  Office locations include a State Office in Columbia, along with local offices in Butler, Charleston, Chillicothe, Clinton, Dexter, Eldon, Farmington, Higginsville, Houston, Kennett, Kirksville, Maryville, Mexico, Moberly, Neosho, New London, Poplar Bluff, Richmond, Rolla, Sedalia, Springfield, St. Joseph, Troy, and West Plains.