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USDA Announces Funding to Increase Access to Health Care Services to over 150,000 Rural Missourians

Lindsay Cheek
Release Date

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development State Director for Missouri Jeff Case today announced more than $1.4 million in projects to increase access to health care services in rural Missouri areas.

“Quality access to health care can often be a challenge in small, rural communities but is a necessity for those communities to thrive and grow,” said Case.  “One solution is utilizing telecommunications technologies to provide these services.  The projects announced today are doing just that and will provide over 150,000 rural Missourians with essential medical access.”

USDA is making the investments through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program.  The program funds telecommunications technologies to connect rural communities to each other and to the world, utilizing broadband service to provide access to job training, educational and health care services for those who live and work in rural areas.  Below are summaries of USDA’s investments in Missouri:

  • Lake Regional Health System is receiving a $443,417 grant to establish the Lake Regional Mid-Missouri Telemedicine Program providing specialty physician telemedicine care. This project will establish medical tele-conferencing equipment within 13 facilities in 5 rural mid-Missouri counties serving over 35,000 rural residents.  The Telemedicine Program will also be used to keep healthcare providers aware of the latest innovations in healthcare, allow easier access to continuing education and other required training, and enable the use of behavioral and other counseling services including opioid misuse treatment.
  • Great Circle, a behavioral health organization, is being awarded a $385,777 grant to implement mobile telehealth equipment delivering specialist telehealth services from St. Louis County to health care facilities in seven counties throughout the state.  Specialty care will include psychological services and Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy benefiting over 2,600 patients.   
  • A $277,683 grant will help the Family Counseling Center, Inc. address mental health and substance misuse.  Interactive telemedicine equipment will be installed at 17 health care clinics and 7 courthouses in 14 counties in Southern and Southeastern Missouri, increasing telemedicine access to over 12.375 rural residents.  The project will provide upgraded equipment enabling clients to meet with providers at clinics and within their homes and will connect rural residents suffering from opioid misuse to Medication Assistance Treatment, nursing services, psychiatric therapy and substance use disorder counseling.
  • Lester E. Cox Medical Centers is being awarded a $235,472 grant to help CoxHealth connect children in schools with a telemedicine network to deliver direct-to-patient care for rural communities in Southern Missouri.  The project will equip 17 rural schools and 8 rural clinics with telemedicine capabilities, increasing access to quality healthcare for 30,000 rural residents.
  • Southeast Missouri Behavioral Health, Inc. is receiving a $72,074 grant to address opioid misuse through the purchase and installation of interactive telemedicine equipment.  This project implements and expands treatment capabilities at 14 health care clinics in 13 rural southeast Missouri counties and will expand healthcare access to more than 75,000 residents.

Case’s announcement is in coordination with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s nationwide announcement that the USDA is investing $39.6 million for 128 projects (PDF, 351 KB) across 40 states and 3 territories.  Many of the projects announced today will help combat the opioid crisis and other substance misuse issues.

“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.”

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).

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 24 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.