The United States Department of Agriculture is plowing almost $40 million into rural American infrastructure to improve residents' health, education and job training.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Wednesday announced the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is awarding grants of almost $40 million for 128 projects to increase access to job training , educational and healthcare services in rural areas -- and the broadband access infrastructure required to access them.
Plant Infrastructure, See What Grows
Invest in high-speed rural broadband and agricultural communities will flourish, USDA leaders argue. (Source: USDA)
"Empowering rural Americans with access to services for quality of life and economic development is critical to rural prosperity," USDA Secretary Perdue said. "Distance learning and telemedicine technology bridge the gap that often exists between rural communities and essential education, workforce training and health care resources."
USDA is awarding $39.6 million through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program. More than 4.5 million residents in 40 states and three territories will benefit from the funding.
Below are summaries of two of the USDA’s investments in rural communities:
Washburn University: The Kansas educational institution will receive $349,213 that will go toward enabling two-way interactive distance learning via video teleconferencing technology. This will help residents develop workplace skills for today's workplace. Resources provided through this investment will enable Kansas' rural students to obtain these skills. This investment also will be used to recruit and retain healthcare workers for rural communities. More than 3,700 students will have access to the educational opportunities provided with this project, including students in a high school in the Lawrence-Gardener Juvenile Corrections Center.
St. Anthony Hospital: Will receive $457,020 to help SSM Health Care of Oklahoma purchase telemedicine equipment to expand its Saints 1st Telehealth Network to serve up to 3,434 inpatients and 3,401 outpatients. This telehealth system will reduce the time and money patients spend to access specialized medical services such as cardiology, endocrinology, pulmonology, pediatric, hospitalist and mental health, as well as primary care. Under this solution, the hospital and its partner will establish telemedicine links at 12 hub/end-user locations several Oklahoma counties. Sites include nine rural hospitals and three rural doctor offices, and the overall implementation is designed to significantly improve healthcare and health -- by encouraging people to more proactively seek medical attention due to its convenience -- in the treated areas. Project sites include nine rural hospitals and three rural physician practices.
This investment is based on a list of 31 recommendations the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity presented to the president in January 2018. Established in April 2017 by President Donald Trump, the agency is designed to identify changes to laws and policies that could improve the rural economy and health.
"Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force," according to USDA.
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