WASHINGTON – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that recipients in 34 states and one territory will receive funding to improve access to health care and educational services in rural areas. Funding is provided through the USDA Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program.
“This program delivers educational and medical opportunities that are urgently needed in remote, rural areas,” Vilsack 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.”
The grants, administered by USDA Rural Development through its Rural Utilities Service, will help fund 100 distance learning and telemedicine projects across the country.
USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel said, “I am extremely pleased that seven Maine health care and educational organizations will receive a total of $3.4 million to support distance learning opportunities and expanded access to quality health care through telemedicine. From providing rural hospitals with specialized cameras, scopes, monitors, and advanced diagnostic software to funding technology in rural schools that will allow for new curricula on wind and solar energy and green agriculture, the impact of these grants will be far-reaching, benefiting individuals in all 16 Maine counties.”
Maine recipients include Androscoggin Home Care & Hospice in Lewiston, which has been selected to receive a grant in the amount of $325,000 to expand to cover more patients and their families. Two hundred more monitors will be purchased and put into patients’ homes, along with extra supplies of blood pressure cuffs and various computer components essential to the expansion. The additional monitors will help to alleviate the waiting list of home health patients who have been approved to receive home health care by their physicians.
As resources become available, Androscoggin emphasizes care for patients with congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes and other cardiac conditions where close monitoring of vital signs is essential. Androscoggin Home Care’s health service territory encompasses 113 communities in Central, Western and mid-coastal Maine.