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News Release
Release No. STELPRD4016713
ContactVicki Schurman402-437-5563
Printable Version  Printable Version

Washington, DC, Jun 07, 2012 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced funding for 52 distance learning and telemedicine projects that will increase access to health care and enhance educational opportunities in 29 states. Four Nebraska educational and health care institutions received a total of more than $969,000 for distance learning opportunities.

Nebraska recipients are:

Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation Kearney, NE - $253,345: Funds will be used by Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation to expand telemedicine services to central Nebraska and Kansas through the Midwest Telehealth Network. The additional equipment will introduce eight more locations, providing video end points for these rural clinics to connect to the telemedicine network. Patients accompanied by their rural clinicians and doctors will be able to link to Good Samaritan and other larger hospitals from their remote location and receive one‐to‐one consultation, medical training, and health care coordination.

Educational Service Unit 17 of Ainsworth, NE - $180,000: Funds will be used to purchase videoconferencing equipment for 21 public schools in this four‐county area of North Central Nebraska. Grant funds also will purchase the central control equipment that manages the video connections, the content capture and streaming, and video bridging. The classes held over the system will include regular high school classes, college and dual credit, agriculture and agri‐business classes and seminars, and specialty classes that are conducted in conjunction with rural attendance centers.

Mid‐Plains Community College of North Platte, NE - $123,042: Funds will be used to purchase video teleconferencing equipment for a distance learning system between Mid Plains Community College and their affiliated end user campuses in this 18‐county area of Western Nebraska. Equipment will be installed in campus locations at Broken Bow, Ogallala and Valentine, and video communications bridge equipment will be installed at Broken Bow. The equipment will allow the College to expand dual high school college credits and other coursework leading to a number of degrees, certification and licensing. Collaboration with various industries bonds the project to job and career training, with an immediate focus on increasing the number of qualified nursing professionals. This will address the nursing shortage in rural and frontier areas, and save students the 100‐ to 200‐mile daily round‐trip they currently travel to attend certification classes.

Educational Service Unit 16 of Ogallala, NE - $412,925: Funds are being used in a system‐wide upgrade to outfit schools with video conferencing equipment and update their video bridge in this vast sparsely populated area of Southwest Nebraska. The modernized bridge unit is better able to leverage available bandwidth. This allows for richer content to run through the system while using less bandwidth expenses, thus saving on connection expenses. The project will provide students and others in their communities with expanded curriculum offerings, virtual travel opportunities, and career advancement.

"Our rural communities need access to the latest educational and health care services to compete in the 21st Century," Vilsack said." The funding I am announcing today for the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) program will help ensure that rural citizens receive the same high-level, specialized medical care and educational services as enjoyed by their fellow citizens in urban areas."

The projects total $14 million and include 19 distance learning projects, 32 telemedicine projects and one combined project. All will benefit rural counties. Nearly half of the total funding – 45 percent – will go to counties where the minority population is greater than 30 percent. Another 18 percent of this funding will benefit areas where the Native American population exceeds 30 percent.

For a complete list of the DLT awards, please click here.

For more information on DLT in Nebraska contact Andre Boening at 402-652-3446 or

Since taking office, the Obama 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 is committed to using Federal resources more efficiently to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working 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. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $165 billion in loans and loan guarantees. 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 areas.

Last Modified:05/17/2013 
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