United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development (USDA RD) Deputy Under Secretary Farah Ahmad today announced that the agency is investing over $2.25 million to help rural residents gain access to educational opportunities and critical health care services across Washington. The five projects in Washington will make health care and dental services more affordable and accessible and will create educational opportunities for some of the state’s most remote communities.
“The Biden-Harris Administration and USDA are committed to partnering with people in rural and Tribal communities to ensure they have every opportunity to succeed – and that they can find those opportunities right in their own communities,” Deputy Under Secretary Ahmad said. “We’re proud to partner with local leaders and organizations throughout the Pacific Northwest to make federal funding and resources accessible to people of all backgrounds and circumstances, especially those that have been overlooked in the past. The investments we’re announcing today will keep people in rural areas connected to quality health care and education and lay the groundwork to bring high-speed internet and new opportunities to their communities.”
The investments are funded through USDA RD’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant program, which helps rural education and health care providers reach students and patients who would otherwise struggle to gain access to critical services. For example,
- University of Washington will use a $1 million grant to equip two hub sites and 12 end-user sites throughout Spokane, King, Asotin, Pacific, Cowlits, Kitsap, Grays Harbor and Clallam counties in Washington State and in Blaine, Fergus, Custer and Beaverhead counties in Montana, with state-of- the-art tele-dentistry carts specially designed for oral health care and teaching. Instructors at University of Washington School of Dentistry in Seattle and UW/Eastern Washington University School of Dentistry site in Spokane will be able to provide the ability for dental students to successfully learn while training at rural or underserved locations benefitting 89,881 individuals.
- Klickitat County Public Hospital District No 2 will use an $86,782 grant to equip one hub site and two end-user sites throughout Klickikat County in Washington and Multanomah County in Oregon with telemedicine equipment. Medical professionals at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, Oregon will deliver specialized telehealth robots that will allow a remote neurologist to speak with patients and the local care team while reviewing CT and other images taken in real-time at the rural facility benefitting 2,224 individuals.
- Colville School District will use a $688,017 grant to equip five hub sites and five end-user sites throughout Stevens County in northeast Washington with telecommunications equipment. Instructors in the Colville School District in Stevens County will deliver distance learning capabilities, connect rural students, and expand telemedicine access to provide a connection to health professionals at five locations benefitting 1,662 students.
- Washington State University will use a $429,860 grant to equip three hub sites and 10 end-user sites in Whitman, Kittitas, Benton, Ferry, Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Skagit, and Wahkiakum counties across Washington State with group and individualized distance learning systems. Instructors at Washington State University in Whitman and Kittitas counties, will deliver for-credit instruction, not-for-credit instruction, webinars, and certificate program courses to 10 locations benefitting 2,088 students.
- Tri-State Memorial Hospital (now TriState Health), in Clarkston, Asotin County, will receive a $75,200 grant to equip one hub site and one end-user site throughout Asotin and Spokane counties in Southeastern Washington with telemedicine carts. Medical professionals at Providence Sacred Heart Stroke Center in Spokane County Washington will deliver neurological, cardiac and emergency department services benefitting 15,000 individuals.
“This is great news,” said Helen Price Johnson, State Director for USDA Rural Development in Washington State. “These awards will open new educational and telehealth opportunities for thousands of rural residents in rural communities across the state.”
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. To learn more about investment resources for rural areas, visit www.rd.usda.gov/wa.