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Success Stories

Pioneering Innovative Ways of Service and Infrastructure Development for Rural Areas

Pat Hemen
Distance Learning
Health Care
Avera Health photo

With the passage of time, rural areas continue to have challenges.  Lack of infrastructure, distance to services, and a qualified workforce continue to plaque rural health care facilities.

In the eastern corner of the state of South Dakota, a strong telehealth network is consistently working in partnership with USDA to pioneer innovative ways to provide service and infrastructure development in rural areas to help reverse the trend. In fiscal year 2020, Avera Health was awarded $985,399 from USDA’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grant program to provide telemedicine software and equipment to ensure equitable health care access at rural, sparsely staffed medical facilities in a seven-state (IA, KS, MN, MT, ND, NE, and WY), 66 county area in the Upper Midwest through Avera Health’s Emergency Telemedicine Project.

This project’s focus is on improving the quality of life and quantity of life by providing access to up-to-date quality specialty healthcare, including treatment and prevention of opioid misuse. 

“Through the USDA’s DLT program, Avera eCARE Emergency will be able to provide rural hospitals with the latest technology. The grant funding will purchase videoconferencing cameras, microphones, monitors and specialized phones to initiate a telemedicine encounter simply by the push of a button. We are extremely grateful for organizations that recognize the importance of offering funding support for our rural hospitals to ensure the best quality of care for their patients, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic.” Deanna Larson, CEO of Avera eCARE

Since 2003, Avera Health has received $7,980,609 from USDA. These USDA grants have been instrumental to Avera Health in developing and expanding telehealth services cost effectively to the smallest and most underserved hospitals and communities.

Obligation Amount:
$985,399 DLT
Year(s) of Obligation:
Congressional District:
  • South Dakota: District (at Large)