The United States Departure of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded the Duluth, Minn.-based health system, Essentia Health more than $200,000 to expand rural telemedicine services in three states.
The grant to Essentia Health comes from USDA's Rural Utilities Services Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program. With the money, Essentia will launch 21 rural clinics and two hospital/clinic sites to its existing telehealth network, which has 25 sites up currently and features more than 20 specialties. The three states that will benefit are Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.
“We’re very excited to receive this money. This grant will allow us to purchase state-of-the-art videoconferencing carts, cameras, stethoscopes and ear scopes used for Telehealth visits and in exams” stated Maureen Ideker, R.N., Essentia Health’s director of Telehealth. “Now our patients will be able to see and speak directly with our specialists anywhere, anytime, no matter how far away they may be from each other.”
In November, the USDA awarded 31 grants totaling $8.6 million for rural telemedicine efforts across 34 states, as part of the Rural Development Distance Learning and Telemedicine program. The program was announced by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Nov. 20., 2014. According to Vilsack, these telehealth investments mean that “people who live and work in rural areas will not have to travel long distances for specialized healthcare services.”