News Release
Release No.STELPRD4013408
ContactCandice Celestin(315) 399-8393
(DECEMBER 8, 2011) USDA RURAL DEVELOPMENT ANNOUNCES FUNDING TO IMPROVE ACCESS TO EDUCATION AND HEALTH CARE IN RURAL NEW YORK
Syracuse, NY, Dec 08, 2011 --

@@USDA Rural Development State Director Jill Harvey today announced that six recipients throughout New York State will receive funding to improve access to health care and educational services in rural New York. Funding is provided through the USDA Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Program.

Hillside Family of Agencies, an organization that works with youth and families facing a wide range of behavioral and emotional challenges, in Central New York State received a DLT grant of $76,610. This project plans to broaden the telehealth services that they currently provide with existing video teleconferencing at two of their campus schools, and then extends their telehealth service locations to two additional outpatient clinics, also in Central New York. This system expansion is focused on telediagnosis, telemedication management and telemonitoring. The project is designed to expand the care capacity of Hillside’s psychiatrists, pediatricians and nurse practitioners using new diagnostic software, computer equipment and peripheral devices, such as digital otoscopes, telephonic stethoscopes, and skin cameras.

Cattaraugus Allegany Erie Wyoming Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) received a DLT grant of $375,717. Rural Development funds will be used by eight schools and two BOCES offices in Southwestern New York State to purchase distance learning system components to access courses, teachers and services that are not currently available. Classes will also originate from the hub sites and outside-the-project sites newly made available by linking to New York’s Regional Information Centers. Science, technology, engineering, math, dual credit, advanced placement, college and enrichment programs, career readiness courses and other adult education courses will all be offered to students and community members. Educators will be able to take professional development classes, as required for certification. The hub site at Olean is to get a multi-point bridge and recording/streaming equipment. All sites will receive video conferencing equipment, some with document cameras and related peripheral equipment.

Elizabethtown Community Hospital received a DLT grant of $134,931. Funds will be used at six sites, including three community health centers, a county jail, and two hospital sites at Elizabethtown, one of those serving as the hub of this telemedicine network. The hub site will acquire a multi-point video bridge and firewall transversal, and the sites will be equipped with video conferencing units and peripheral devices for input, such as examination cameras, digital stethoscopes, and various other scoping devices. The end result being that residents throughout these Adirondack Mountain communities in and around Essex County will for the first time have local access to specialist physicians, particularly ENT physicians, dermatologists, and opthamologists . Elizabethtown will also extend its cardiac rehabilitation program through the video network.

Franklin - Essex - Hamilton BOCES received a DLT grant of $142,162. Funds will be used to purchase video conferencing equipment and bridging capabilities so that they can share classes, and boost the availability of technical education, dual enrollment and other courses that were previously unavailable to them. Along the Canadian border in New York State a partnership of 10 schools will invest in improving their students’ achievement by installing a distance learning video conferencing network. Sites include K-12 schools, high schools, a private academy and an education center. The system will bring in connections to St. Regis Mohawk Reservation through its local schools and provide health programs and other shared courses. The project will find collaborative ways to preserve and build upon tribal language and culture working with Mohawk Elders. Plans are to find multiple uses within the community, such as providing a training platform for local emergency services.

Otsego Northern Catskills BOCES received a $220,339 DLT grant. Rural development funds will be used by this project to expand from a distance learning grant last year to include three new school sites, and adds an extra distance learning classroom to a school where demand has exceeded the school’s capacity for classroom space. Four schools will receive video conferencing equipment that will enable the Otsego Northern Catskills BOCES distance learning system to reach further into Central New York State. Students, their parents and other community residents in these new communities will have access to the classes and other educational resources that are available from an existing network, such as dual enrollment classes, expanded career and adult education programs, and collaborative professional development.

Wayne Finger Lakes Board of Cooperative Education Services also received a DLT grant for $311,337. These funds will be used for distance learning equipment for 14 rural public schools in Wayne County, and equipment for the hub site at the Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES office to manage and participate in the video conferencing system. The schools will share classes among themselves, and in particular the high schools will function as course providers. Equipment includes both wall-mounted display units for distance learning classrooms and video systems mounted on mobile carts used for multiple locations within a school or facility. Client software will allow students access on their PCs or laptops so that materials presented will not be exclusively limited to videoconferencing locations. The BOCES office will originate classes for the public schools and also offer classes for teachers and school staff that couldl apply toward general equivalency diplomas and other professional certifications. The BOCES will make the system available for police, fire fighters, and emergency medical staff in their training initiatives

“Our DLT program delivers educational and medical opportunities that are urgently needed in remote, rural areas,” Harvey said. “President Obama has said that no matter where you live in America, you should have access to quality educational opportunities. Rural Americans deserve the same opportunities for education and medical care as metropolitan-area residents, and these funds will make that happen.”

Since taking office, President Obama’s Administration has taken historic steps to improve the lives of rural Americans, put people back to work and build thriving economies in rural communities. From proposing the American Jobs Act to establishing the first-ever White House Rural Council – chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack – the President wants the federal government to be the best possible partner for rural businesses, entrepreneurs and people who want to live, work and raise their families in rural communities.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has a portfolio of more than $160 billion in loans and loan guarantees. Visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/ for additional information about the agency's programs or to locate the USDA Rural Development office nearest you.