Columbia, MO, Feb 28, 2012 -- Janie Dunning, Missouri State Director for USDA Rural Development, announced $971,752 to fund four educational projects and expand access to health care services in Missouri’s rural areas. The funding is available through the USDA’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Program, which provides loans and grants to assist educational and medical telecommunications projects which will benefit rural residents.
"The vision of the telecommunication program is that rural America will have access to affordable, reliable, advanced communications services to provide a healthy, safe and prosperous place to live and work,” said Dunning. “This program delivers educational and medical opportunities that are urgently needed in remote, rural areas."
The funding recipients were recognized at an event hosted by Rural Development on February 17, 2012. Recipients were also asked to share their personal success stories on projects funded through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Program.
A variety of DLT projects will be funded by the Missouri recipients:
• St. Clair County Hospital District 1, located in the southwest Missouri community of Osceola, will receive $132,515 for developing a direct video connection with the Missouri Telehealth Network. This connection will allow access to a vast array of medical resources and specialist. For most people living in the area, this means they will no longer need to make exhausting trips to the nearest doctor.
• Sisters of Mercy Health Systems, of Chesterfield, Missouri, will receive $500,000 for mobile medical carts equipped with state-of-the-art video teleconferencing unit, exam camera, and telephonic stethoscope. The organization serves as a central hub to 12 rural hospitals in Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Other equipment will be used to provide opportunities in continuing medical education for rural health care providers.
• Education Plus Network, Inc., in the northern Missouri community of Unionville, will receive $195,487 for upgrading the distance learning network and revitalize their educational collaboration. This project will replace existing failing distant learning programs with upgraded state of the art technology. Students will be offered more options to complete the necessary coursework for post secondary education. Community members will gain access to much needed adult education.
• SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, with its central hub in St. Louis, Missouri, will receive $143,750 to assist with the cost of providing maternal/fetal medicine and pediatric sub-specialty services to cover five new rural hospitals in Southeast Missouri. With the addition of identical telemedical carts at the participating hospitals, the Children’s Hospital can accommodate new units into its hub configuration, making use of existing video bridging equipment.
In addition to the funding provided through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program, two organizations have been selected to receive funding under the USDA’s Community Connect and Public Television Grants programs:
• Plateau Wireless will receive $570,800 to provide broadband services to the rural community of Brumley, Missouri. The company will also receive an additional $570,800 to provide broadband to the residents, businesses, and crucial community facilities of Olean, Missouri.
• The University of Central Missouri will receive $681,968 to fund studio production equipment for KMOS TV, which covers a substantial rural area in central Missouri.
Funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the conditions of the grant agreement. For a complete list of the DLT projects, you can visit: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/supportdocuments/ChartDLTAWARDSJan2011.pdf More information about the USDA’s Rural Telecommunications Programs can be found at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/RUSTelecomPrograms.html or by contacting General Field Representative Chris Collins at (573) 445-0765.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of 6,100 employees located in the nation's capital and nearly 500 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 an existing portfolio of nearly $160 billion in loans and loan guarantees.
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