Washington, DC, USA — The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced funding for 52 telemedicine and distance learning projects designed to improve access to healthcare and educational opportunities in 29 US states.
The project budgets total $14 million and include 32 telemedicine projects, 19 distance learning projects, and one combined project. All are intended to benefit rural counties.
“Our rural communities need access to the latest educational and health care services to compete in the 21st Century,” says Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack.” The funding I am announcing for the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) programme will help ensure that rural citizens receive the same high-level, specialised medical care and educational services as enjoyed by their fellow citizens in urban areas.”
Examples of the projects being funded include a $149,094 grant to the Appalachian College of Pharmacy. This will reportedly enable health officials to better manage chronic disease, specifically targeting diabetes and primary health needs in the southwest corner of the state. This award will allow the College of Pharmacy to team up with a rural hospital, healthcare providers and local pharmacies to offer more efficient, consistent and reliable delivery of healthcare for patients with chronic conditions.
Another project aims to save rural Wisconsin residents time and money. A grant of $446,735 to Dean Health Systems in Madison will enable residents of seven counties in rural Wisconsin to use 12 telemedicine sites that will, it is estimated, save nearly 13,000 hours of travel time, $302,940 in travel costs and avoid the loss of $448,272 in wages. The new telemedicine system will provide critical access to cardiology, pharmacy and dermatology services. The equipment also will be used to improve the co-ordination of disaster responses.
In an effort to improve the lives of rural Americans, President Obama’s administration points to various steps taken to put people back to work and encourage economies in rural communities. These range from proposing the American Jobs Act to establishing the first ever White House Rural Council – chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The President (pictured) is said to be committed to using Federal resources more efficiently to foster sustainable economic prosperity.
In its Rural Development mission area, the USDA administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programmes via a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $165 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programmes are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural areas.