U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Success Stories

Health Care Closer to Home – It’s Good for the Heart

Isaac Navarrete
Distance Learning
Health Care
Two patients exercise in the telehealth cardio rehab room at Benson Hospital.

In Arizona, Benson Hospital’s telehealth services cut a 100-mile round trip to metropolitan Tucson, allowing residents to focus on what matters most – their health.

Before the pandemic, telehealth was nearly nonexistent in Graham and Cochise County, forcing rural Arizonans in the southeast region to travel more than 50 miles for health appointments. For cardiac patients, individuals must travel 100 miles roundtrip, twice a week for rehabilitation sessions. Patients and caregivers face geographical challenges, transportation insecurity, and missed working hours to make the journey to the nearest healthcare facility.

Jason Zibart, Benson Hospital’s Community Health Manager, credits the success of the hospital’s Telehealth Cardiac Rehabilitation Program to a $377,494 Distance Learning & Telemedicine Grant from USDA Rural Development. With USDA’s funding, Benson Hospital has improved telehealth technology, bringing healthcare access and cardiac rehabilitation closer to rural residents of Cochise County.

“We saw that about 70% of the people that could benefit from cardiac rehab didn’t ever do it if they lived more than 30 miles away from a rehab center,” Zibart said. “The program involved bringing people to Benson, but it cut off the drive to Tucson for all those patients.” 

Exercise physiologists and cardiologists in Tucson can connect with Benson patients through telehealth equipment, allowing them to monitor vital signs and follow patients with a high-definition camera. Nurses help cardiac patients in person to complete exercises through the 16 sessions, without patients ever leaving the comfort of their own community.

Benson’s Telehealth Cardiac Rehabilitation Program recently celebrated one year of serving rural Arizonans. The hospital has created a foundation for the program’s continuance through connections with telehealth contractors and USDA’s investment. Zibart adds, “Facilities have a hard time keeping up the program if there’s any funds associated, right? That’s not going to happen for Benson. We’re keeping our stuff in place.”

Residents in Benson and nearby towns can focus on their health over travel plans. USDA’s Distance Learning & Telemedicine Grant help rural Americans get the services they need closer to home.

Obligation Amount:
Year(s) of Obligation:
Congressional District:
  • Arizona: District 1
  • Arizona: District 2