DES MOINES, Oct. 7, 2020 – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing over $1.6 million in grants to help rural residents gain access to health care and educational opportunities. These investments will benefit more than 27,000 rural Iowans.
“Increasing access to telemedicine and distance learning is critical to building healthier and more resilient rural communities,” said Secretary Sonny Perdue. “Paired with our monumental effort to expand high-speed broadband access in rural America, these investments will help rural health care centers and education institutions reach more rural residents with essential services and opportunities. Under the leadership of President Trump, USDA is committed to being a strong partner to rural communities because when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”
“Investing in telemedicine and distance learning technology is a key element of bridging the digital divide and increasing rural prosperity,” said Grant Menke, State Director of USDA Rural Development in Iowa. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Secretary Perdue, USDA is proud to partner with rural health care providers and schools to improve quality of life through connectivity and technology, because working together, America prospers.”
USDA is funding these projects through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grant program. The program helps health care and education institutions buy the equipment and software necessary to deploy distance-learning and telemedicine services to rural residents.
Here are the projects announced today which will benefit rural Iowans:
· The Iowa Specialty Hospital-Clarion is receiving a $614,723 grant to purchase telemedicine equipment to connect health care providers in six Iowa counties This project will be used to connect local schools and rural patients to the main hospital locations so that a doctor is always available to patients without them having to drive. The schools will be connected through telemedicine carts at each school location. Equipment will be added to the hospitals that will enable patients to use their personal devices and complete appointments with doctors without leaving their homes. In response to increased patient need, equipment will also be purchased to allow providers to practice through telemedicine if the diagnosis allows it. These services will directly benefit patients by bringing the care closer to home and reducing travel burden on patients and their families. The school services will be available to approximately 1,100 students per year in those districts. The physician access portion of the project is available to all patients, estimated at 500 patients per week in times of high need.
· Avera Health is receiving a $985,399 grant to provide telemedicine software and equipment to ensure equitable health care access at rural medical facilities through the Emergency Telemedicine Project. The Iowa health care facilities benefiting from these funds will be Adair County Health System in Greenfield, Baum Harmon Mercy Hospital in Primghar, Central Community Hospital in Elkader, Davis County Hospital in Bloomfield, Hancock County Hospital in Britt, Hawarden Regional Healthcare in Hawarden, Mercy Medical Center in Dyersville, Monroe County Medical Center in Albia, Palo Alto County Hospital in Emmetsburg, and Regional Health Services of Howard County in Cresco. This grant will provide a more streamlined process for caring for patients by focusing on direct patient care delivered via telemedicine through eEmergency. The project brings interactive video and computer equipment that will be used for telehealth consultations with specialty care providers.
To learn more about investment resources for rural areas, interested parties should contact their USDA Rural Development state office. 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. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov/ia.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.