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Rural-serving Ohio Hospitals, School Districts to Benefit from USDA Investments in Distance Learning and Telemedicine Technology

Heather Hartley
Release Date


U.S. Department of Agriculture Ohio Rural Development State Director David L. Hall recently announced Ohio is among 37 states and two U.S. territories in which USDA is investing $42.5 million in 133 distance learning and telemedicine projects through its Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grant program.

“Distance learning and telemedicine technology helps level the playing field for rural students, bringing the world into to their classrooms just like their city-based peers,” said Hall. “It also helps narrow the gap between urban-based healthcare specialists and remotely-located patients for whom time and travel present challenges. I’m exceptionally proud of USDA’s support of this life-saving, life-affirming technology, and look forward to seeing how Ohio’s recipients use it to improve rural lives.”   

In Ohio:

  • Edison Local School District will use $498,015 grant to implement a distance learning initiative intended to provide advanced educational opportunities to about 2,600 students, parents and teachers in Appalachian Belmont and Jefferson counties.
  • The Lisbon Exempted Village School District (Columbiana County) will use its $323,478 grant to create a Distance Learning network with eight sites across the county: Akron Children’s Hospital, David Anderson Junior and Senior High School, McKinley Elementary School, Columbiana (City) High School, and the Columbiana County Health Department, Counseling Center, and Juvenile Justice Center. Both classes and behavioral health services will be offered, and the project is expected to serve about 850 students.
  • University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center will use its $108,065 grant to implement a telemedicine project designed to provide specialty care access to rural residents in Ashtabula and Geauga counties. The project is expected to reach more than 3,500 patients a year, and is available to an overall rural population of more than 16,100.
  • The Jefferson County Educational Service Center will use its $451,822 grant to install videoconferencing equipment at five hub sites in Steubenville and Cadiz, and 11 hub end-user sites in Jefferson, Harrison, and Columbiana counties. The telemedicine network will focus on behavioral health services, parental education, and a mentoring program expected to reach more than a thousand students and residents each year.
  • Mercy Health will use its $206,000 grant to implement a telehealth project addressing substance use disorders and mental health issues in Allen, Champaign, Columbiana, Huron, and Trumbull counties. The system is expected to reach nearly 42,000 rural residents.
  • Western Reserve Local School District will use its $482,584 grant to expand an already-existing distance learning project that brings education, health and wellness, and prevention programming to about 6,600 people in Trumbull, Summit and Mahoning counties.
  • The Cabell Huntington Hospital Foundation will use its $206,000 grant to establish a tele-stroke and tele-oncology network between Cabell Huntington Hospital (the hub), and 10 spoke sites in rural West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky. These resources will help bring advanced stroke and oncology healthcare services to 10 rural communities, supporting a population of nearly 46,000.

In addition to Ohio, these investments will benefit 5.4 million rural people in Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Applicants eligible for Distance Learning and Telemedicine grants include most state and local governmental entities, federally-recognized tribes, nonprofits, for-profit businesses and consortia of eligible entities.

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