MORGANTOWN, Nov. 16, 2023 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development West Virginia State Director Ryan Thorn today announced that Rural Development is investing $3.2 million in 4 organizations to help people in rural West Virginia access remote education and health care resources. Rural Development is making this announcement on National Rural Health Day.
“At Rural Development we’re committed to making sure that rural West Virginians, no matter where they live, have access to high-quality health care and remote education services,” said Thorn. “These investments will help educators deliver curriculum to students and will allow health care providers to provide crucial telehealth services to people living in rural West Virginia.”
Rural Development’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants help fund real-time, interactive distance learning and telemedicine services in rural and tribal areas to increase access to education, training and health care resources that are otherwise limited or unavailable. This effort is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal that every American has access to affordable, reliable, high-speed internet. Digital equity is an important component of that mission. For instance, the DLT program gives students the opportunity to participate in classes that may be in places that are too far to access. DLT funds can also help connect rural people virtually to medical professionals without leaving their home.
In total, Rural Development is investing $3,194,830 to four projects in West Virginia through its DLT grant program to the following organizations:
Cabell Huntington Hospital will use a $967,571 DLT grant to equip one hub site and 11 end-user sites throughout Cabell, Lincoln, and Mason counties in Southwestern West Virginia and Gallia County in Southeastern Ohio with telemedicine equipment. Medical professionals at Cabell Huntington Hospital will deliver Critical Care, Neurology, Nephrology, Endocrine and Behavioral / Mental health care services to 11 locations benefitting 26,232 individuals.
Glenville State College Research Corporation will use a $439,603 DLT grant to equip one hub and one end-user site in Gilmer County with Wi-Fi infrastructure upgrades, computer labs, and audio/video conferencing equipment. Instructors at Glenville State University (GSU) in Gilmer County, West Virginia will deliver academic and non-academic instructional content online to GSU students expanding access to mental health counseling via telehealth programs benefitting 1,500 students.
The Jefferson County Joint Vocational School in Bloomingdale, Ohio will use a $854,842 DLT grant to equip and one end user site and five hub sites throughout St. Louis County in Missouri, Jefferson and Mahoning counties in Ohio, and Ohio County in West Virginia, with interactive video conferencing systems. Instructors at St. Louis University School of Medicine, Jefferson County Sheriff's Department, Salon Centric, West Virginia Northern Community College and Jefferson County Vocational School will deliver science, technology, engineering, and math educational coursework and job ready skills to one location benefitting 362 students.
The Mingo County Board of Education will use a $932,814 DLT grant to equip nine hub sites and nine end-user sites throughout Mingo County with distance learning equipment. Instructors in the Mingo County School District will deliver standardized curriculum for STEM and career development courses to nine locations benefitting 3,919 students.
National Rural Health Day is an annual event that occurs on the third Thursday in November and was created by the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health. As the nation’s leading federal government organization who represents and advocates for rural communities, USDA is recognizing National Rural Health Day on Thursday, November 16 to highlight the many ways the Department is addressing the unique challenges that people living in rural and tribal communities face to improve rural health. As part of Rural Health Day, USDA is adding a spotlight for rural health on rural.gov to aid rural communities and persons working to improve rural health.
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans 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, tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov/wv.
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