The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced grants totaling nearly $30.2 million to help fund telehealth and distance learning initiatives in rural areas nationwide, the Bangor Daily News reports (Lynds, Bangor Daily News, 12/9).
The grants will be provided through USDA's Distance Learning and Telemedicine program (USDA release, 12/8). The funding will help support 100 projects in 34 states and the Northern Mariana Islands territory (Robeznieks, Modern Healthcare, 12/12).
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said, "Rural Americans deserve the same opportunities for education and medical care as metropolitan-area residents, and these funds will make that happen" (Bangor Daily News, 12/9).
The telehealth-related grants include:
- $500,000 for the Missouri-based Mercy health system to implement telehealth tools linking St. John's Mercy Medical Center in St. Louis to 12 rural hospitals in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma;
- $489,000 for South Dakota-based Sanford Health to install mobile medical carts equipped with cameras, digital stethoscopes and teleconferencing tools at 39 rural clinics and hospitals in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota;
- $109,000 for the Maine Sea Coast Missionary Society to install video equipment for a ship-based medical examination room (Modern Healthcare, 12/12); and
- $50,000 for Eastern Maine HomeCare to install telemonitoring equipment to provide remote health care services to elderly residents and people with chronic conditions (Bangor Daily News, 12/9).
A full list of grant recipients is available on USDA's website (USDA release, 12/8).