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USDA Rural Development Provides Telemedicine Grants to Help Two Maine Healthcare Organizations with Opioid Treatment

Emily Cannon
Release Date

Investments will help more than 4.5 million rural Americans

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. In Maine two healthcare organizations have been selected to receive grants.

“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 Rural Development State Director Timothy P. Hobbs said, “This critical investment will help thousands of the most rural residents in Maine and New Hampshire who are struggling with opioid addiction by providing access to care through telemedicine, as well as empower rural Maine healthcare partners in the practice of opioid misuse recovery through distance learning technology at a time when it is needed most.”

In Maine, two healthcare organizations were selected to receive funds:

  • The Maine Rural Health Collaborative has been selected to receive a Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant in the amount of $479,679. This Rural Development investment will help the Maine Rural Health Collaborative address opioid misuse through the purchase and installation of interactive telemedicine equipment. A telehealth network will be implemented at nine health care facilities in Aroostook, Hancock, Penobscot and Washington counties. The facilities will be linked to providers in Maine and New Hampshire. Network and video-conferencing equipment will increase access to health care resources, deliver treatment and training addressing opioid misuse, advance professional development and expand the availability of advanced healthcare services. The project will serve more than 115,000 people in four of Maine's most rural counties.

  • Maine Quality Counts has been selected to receive a Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant in the amount of $87,011. This Rural Development investment will be used to help Maine Quality Counts provide distance learning via telecommunications equipment to engage the very rural healthcare partners in the practice of opioid misuse recovery. The hub/end user and nine dedicated end user sites located in Kennebec, Washington, Waldo, Hancock and Piscataquis Counties in Maine, will use synchronous video conferencing equipment to engage partners such as law enforcement, child welfare organizations and social services in the opioid misuse recovery community of practice, thereby insuring a more thorough and meaningful result. Hardware and software for media and content production will allow for development and production of content to provide Medication Assisted Treatment Education to healthcare providers involved in the practice of opioid misuse disorder recovery. This project is expected to assist 1,500 - 2,000 patients over a three period.

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.

For more information about applying for the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program, please contact General Field Representative Thomas Becker at Thomas.becker@ny.usda.gov.

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 services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit at www.rd.usda.gov.

USDA Rural Development has Area Offices located in Presque Isle, Bangor, Lewiston, and Scarborough, as well as a State Office, located in Bangor. Rural Development staff work diligently to deliver the agency’s Housing, Business, and Community Programs, which are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, and farmers, and improve the quality of life in rural Maine. Further information on rural programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting USDA Rural Development's web site at http://www.rd.usda.gov/me.