The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced 72 grants worth $23.6 million in an effort to use eConnectivity to serve rural areas. The grants were made through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program and will support programs aimed at opioid abuse treatment, mental health counseling, job training, and educational and health care opportunities for rural communities.
USDA Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants
The announcement was made by Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett, who said support will be given to projects in Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.
The USDA says that opioid abuse treatment and mental health counseling are high on the list of initiatives the grants will support. The press release offers two examples of the projects that are being supported this year:
- Lincoln Community Hospital and Nursing Home will receive $265,622 to establish a telemedicine network between hospitals and clinics serving more than 200,000 people in the Colorado counties of Adams, Cheyenne, Kit Carson, Lincoln and Phillips.
- Southern Tier Health Care Systems in Olean, N.Y., received a grant of $132,899 to use for telecommunications equipment to train and certify emergency responders dealing with the Opioid overdoses. End user sites in the towns of Salamanca, Cuba, Franklin and Gerry are included. Emergency response personnel at the Allegany Indian Reservation Volunteer Fire Department and community services agencies in Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua communities will host the sessions for first responders.
The press release also noted that the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity established by President Trump last year has made 31 recommendations on aligning the federal government with state, local and tribal leaders to optimize opportunities in rural areas.