News Release
Release No.STELPRD4016718
ContactJill Rees(503) 414-3302
PORTLAND, Jun 08, 2012 --

@@Nearly $550,000 in federal funding will help thousands of patients in remote rural areas in Benton, Curry, Lincoln and Linn Counties to receive specialty care from medical professionals working hundreds of miles away.

This week, USDA announced two Oregon telemedicine projects to be funded through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) program administered by USDA’s Rural Development mission area.

"This funding will help ensure rural citizens receive the same high-level, specialized medical care as urban residents," said USDA Rural Development State Director Vicki Walker.

Samaritan Health Services will receive $414,942 to purchase and install videoconferencing technology that will expand its ability to deliver mental health care in rural areas of Lincoln, Benton and Linn Counties. The enhanced system will be based on direct video interactions between clinicians, patients and practitioners at 13 rural hospitals and clinics, and will also help to train the medical staff with interactive medical courses. With direct access to specialists at nearby hospitals, Samaritan can improve its response to emergencies and extend specialty coverage in underserved rural communities, including those federally designated as “Primary Medical Care Health Provider Shortage Areas” and “Medically Underserved Areas.”

A $130,452 grant will allow Curry Health District based in Gold Beach, Oregon, to purchase and implement telemedical devices, and to provide training on how to use and integrate the equipment into Curry Health District’s healthcare delivery system. The District will use the new equipment to link to existing and emerging telehealth networks and tap into a wider array of specialists to treat patients and assist clinicians. The Curry Health Network serves the rural communities in and around Port Orford, Gold Beach, and Brookings, Oregon. Curry County’s rural population of 22,000 is spread across 3,000 square miles, primarily along the 121‐mile coastline. Patients in these remote areas currently often must travel up to 300 miles to the nearest urban center for specialist consultation and care.

The Oregon awards were among 52 distance learning and telemedicine projects announced this week to increase access to health care and enhance educational opportunities in 29 states.

"Our rural communities need access to the latest educational and health care services to compete in the 21st Century," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

In all, the current round of DLT funding amounts to $14 million and includes 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.

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.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).