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USDA Announces Funding for Seven Telemedicine Projects in Rural Areas

September 20, 2016
by Heather Landi
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Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Monday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is awarding funds to seven telemedicine projects in rural areas to expand access to healthcare, substance misuse treatment and advanced educational opportunities.

The funding for the telemedicine projects is part of a $4.7 million award in Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) program grants to support 11 distance learning and seven telemedicine projects. These will join the 80 DLT projects USDA announced July 14.

The seven telemedicine projects to receive funding are:

Meridian-based East Central Mississippi Health Network in order to install audio and video equipment to connect a central hub and 18 end-user sites in Mississippi and Alabama.

Baxter Country Regional Hospital in Mountain Home, Arkansas will receive $320,000 to provide a comprehensive telehealth care management program to include remote patient monitoring. The goal with these enhancements is to improve patient case management and health outcomes, and reduce unnecessary hospitalizations and visits to the emergency room.

Landon Pediatric Foundation in Ventura, California will use funding to equip rural hospitals and clinics wit telemedical carts to connect them with specialists throughout the state and create an online program to train nurses, physician’s assistants and doctors.

In Leland, Mississippi, the Delta Health Alliance will receive $396,000 to purchase electronic equipment to install at five rural hospitals in order to expand the health records system to offer new services, enhance care coordination, increase access to medical information and improve reimbursement rates in the Mississippi Delta region.

Charles Cole Memorial Hospital in Coudersport, Pennsylvania will use funding to deploy a telemedicine project connecting nine rural health clinics and wellness centers in Pennsylvania and two orthopedic centers in New York. The project aims to improve access to clinical education, healthcare services, care coordination programs and community health education for residents in six rural counties.

The McLeod Regional Medical Center of Pee Dee in Florence, S.C., will receive a $420,092 grant to connect doctors in Florence, S.C., to seven mental and primary health care centers throughout the state. The network will provide primary and mental health care, occupational health services and continuing medical education.

And, Ministry Health Care, Inc. in Wisconsin will receive $432,000 to expand the advanced practice nurse practitioners telemedicine program in clinics in western and eastern Wisconsin, enabling nurse practitioners to communicate physicians through one hub and 15 end-user sites.

"These investments will help provide better health care and educational opportunities for rural residents," Vilsack said in a statement. "Hospitals, schools and training centers across the country are successfully using telecommunications to deliver quality educational and medical services. Telemedicine, for example, can help treat patients who are struggling with opioid and other substance use disorders that disproportionately affect rural areas by allowing rural hospitals to connect with resources in other health care facilities across the country to better diagnose and treat individuals."

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