The U.S. Department of Agriculture has issued 31 grants worth more than $8.6 million to rural telemedicine projects and infrastructure as part of an overall $20 million disbursement through the USDA Rural Development Distance Learning and Telemedicine program.
The grants are the latest in a series of USDA Rural Development investments in rural health and health IT infrastructure needs (including telehealth, health information exchange and electronic health record technology needs) following a Memorandum of Understanding that the Department of Health and Human Services and USDA signed in 2011 to help link rural doctors and clinics to USDA Rural Development grants and loans.
As of October 2014, a joint HHS/USDA initiative to reach doctors, clinics and hospitals caring for rural and poor communities had expanded to cover 13 states. In announcing the grants, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said these telehealth investments mean that people who live and work in rural areas will not have to travel long distances for specialized healthcare services.
Among the notable telehealth projects receiving grants were a $496,000 grant to the Monongalia County General Hospital Co. in Morgantown, W.V., to connect hospital specialists with primary care providers and patients throughout the state, including very remote rural regions; a $417,000 grant to facilitate connection between providers at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles with patients and providers at six remote sites in Guam; and a $498,000 grant to the University of Iowa to provide adult, pediatric, and geriatric care to patients at 64 remote rural locations.
The full list of grantees is available here.
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