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USDA Announces Funding to Increase Access to Health Care in Rural Michigan

Alec Lloyd
East Lansing
Release Date

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced that USDA is awarding grants for 128 projects to increase access to job training, educational and health care services in rural areas.

   “Empowering rural Americans with access to services for quality of life and economic development is critical to rural prosperity,” Secretary Perdue said. “Distance learning and telemedicine technology bridges the gap that often exists between rural communities and essential education, workforce training and health care resources.”

   USDA is awarding $37 million through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program.  More than 4.5 million residents in 40 states and three territories will benefit from the funding. Many of the projects announced today will help combat the opioid crisis and other substance misuse issues. 

   “These investments help bring cutting-edge technology and advanced diagnostics to communities that would otherwise be hours away from them,” said USDA Rural Development State Director for Michigan Jason Allen.  “Given the ongoing opioid crisis, the grants to expand access to behavioral health services are particularly important.”

Below are summaries of USDA’s investments in Michigan:

  • Munising Memorial Hospital is receiving $303,337 to purchase telemedicine equipment for six sites in Marquette and Alger counties. New 3D tomosynthesis mammography technology will replace the outdated 2D mammography equipment. The new technology improves cancer detection by 40 percent and will speed up the diagnosis and treatment. The new telemedicine capabilities will impact a population of 2,927, decrease travel time for patients, and provide the most comprehensive breast imaging services, which are not usually available in rural communities.

  • Sheridan Community Hospital is receiving $284,105 to develop a telemedicine system to address opioid misuse through the delivery of professional medical primary care and behavioral-health medical services over new high definition two-way interactive technology. Primary medical care will also be provided to four sites across Montcalm county over the course of the project timeline. Additionally, this project will provide professional development opportunities for medical and social service professionals at the four sites. This project is expected to reach up to 3,704 residents.    

  • Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Service is receiving $102,987 to help purchase equipment for a telehealth network to rural areas of northern Michigan. Rural sites will be connected with larger Pine Rest facilities in Grand Rapids and Traverse City, which provide psychiatry services. The project will also provide access to substance misuse treatment providers based in Marquette and Sault St. Marie. Thirteen sites will have access to state of the art treatment services provided by nine hub sites that have capability of providing a broad range of medical services and treatment options to its service area of 242,191 residents.

   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. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.