$2.3M to improve access to telemedicine, learning in Alabama
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture says a significant expansion of access to high-speed internet, health care and educational services is coming for rural Alabamians.
According to the USDA, the $2.3 million investment will support five different projects across the state, including expanding mental health services through telemedicine. The other four projects are:
- In Bibb County, USDA is investing $650,465 through the Bibb County Board of Education to increase access to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) opportunities for students using distance learning. Students in 41 classrooms at 10 school sites will participate in expanded and enhanced education, including opportunities to participate in dual credit college courses and other learning opportunities. This project will benefit the 22,000 rural residents of Bibb county.
- In Sumter County, USDA is investing $334,317 through the Sumter County School System to equip six interactive distance learning rooms that will provide opportunities for teachers to reach more students across the school system through interactive videoconferencing. This technology will reduce the need for students, teachers, and administrators to travel across the school system and provide professional development opportunities to teachers. The project will benefit the 12,800 rural residents of Sumter county.
- In Mobile, Baldwin, Washington, Clarke, Monroe, Conecuh, Escambia, Randolph, Clay, and Talladega counties, USDA is investing $259,750 through AltaPointe Health Systems Inc. to provide telehealth equipment to rural hospital emergency departments. This investment will increase access to psychiatric care for adults and children in rural communities across these ten counties, benefitting 861,000 rural residents.
- In Clay, Escambia, Washington, Clarke, Randolph, Monroe, Covington, Cherokee, Wilcox, and Tallapoosa counties, USDA is investing $951,886 through the University of Alabama to create a network of 26 tele-medically equipped ambulances that can easily and immediately relay real-time patient data to emergency physicians in 11 rural hospitals. This will allow hospital-based emergency department physicians to help determine how best to maximize patient care and reduce cost at the site of the initial patient encounter and during patient transport. This investment will benefit 260,062 rural residents.
“For too long, the ‘digital divide’ has left too many people living in rural communities behind: unable to compete in the global economy and unable to access the services and resources that all Americans need,” USDA Sec. TomVilsack said.
These awards are funded through USDA’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) program, which helps fund distance learning and telemedicine services in rural areas to increase access to education, training, and healthcare resources otherwise limited or unavailable.
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