Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced that USDA is awarding grants for broadband projects to increase access to job training, educational and health care services in rural areas in 35 states, including Missouri.
“Barriers exist for rural residents. Among these barriers are availability of quality health care services and education,” said Jeff Case, Missouri USDA Rural Development State Director. “DLT is a program with the potential to break down these barriers. These technological advancements are enhancing efficiency and safety in rural communities in Missouri. With these improvements, residents in rural areas no longer need to make long commutes to urban areas, as this technology helps those large hospitals come them remotely.”
USDA is awarding 72 grants totaling $23.6 million through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program. This program funds equipment that uses broadband to help rural communities connect to advanced learning and specialized medical services.
Here in Missouri, USDA provided a total of $120,246 to Lester E. Cox Medical Center. The funds will help the Lester E. Cox Medical Center purchase video conferencing equipment to provide interactive telemedicine services. The project will benefit one hub and 22 end-user sites in 11 communities. It will provide cart-mounted telemedicine video conferencing equipment to allow the Medical Center to connect children and school nurses with children's parents and with a health care provider. The project will increase access to health care, reduce transportation costs, help alleviate the rural health care shortage and increase affordable health care.
USDA’s DLT program has a strong record of supporting rural health care and educational programs. For example, in Missouri, Compass Health, Inc. has used DLT funding in the last few years to provide a range of health care services at 18 remote health clinics by using high-definition video teleconferencing to connect patients with mental health providers and pharmacists in urban locations.
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 services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov/mo.