Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett announced USDA is awarding grants for broadband projects to increase access to job training, educational and health care services in rural areas in 35 states, with Tennessee having four projects awarded, including Chattanooga State Community College.
“Broadband technology is vital to the success of rural communities across the state”, Tennessee Rual Development State Director Jim Tracy said. “Having access to broadband allows citizen’s in rural areas to take advantage of telemedicine and distance learning opportunities that would otherwise not be available.”
USDA is awarding 72 grants totaling $23.6 million through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program. This program funds equipment that uses broadband to help rural communities connect to advanced learning and specialized medical services.
Below are the projects USDA is supporting in Tennessee:
United South and Eastern Tribes, Inc. is receiving a $496,718 grant to purchase telemedicine equipment to provide enhanced telemedicine services. The project will benefit one hub and 10 end-user sites in 10 communities throughout Tennessee, Maine and Florida. It will provide computer servers, video conferencing equipment, laptops and tablets, electronic stethoscopes and horus scopes, software and networking equipment. USET is planning to expand its offering to Tribal Nation health departments to include direct service provision and support through professional development and telemedicine, initially in psychiatry and behavioral health. The goal is to establish a technology platform that facilitates quality health care for tribal citizens and builds the capacity of tribally operated health clinics to ensure high performance through professional development and improved efficiency.
Quorum Health Corporation is receiving a $485,395 grant to purchase telemedicine equipment to provide enhanced telemedicine services to hospitals, medical clinics and schools in eight states. The project will benefit one hub and 16 end-user sites, including nine hospitals and medical centers, and seven school-based health clinics in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina and Texas. The project will benefit rural patients by providing telemedicine carts, cameras and monitors to allow interactive video communications between the clinician and remote patients or students. The technology also has the ability to share images and media content, which enhances the patient's and student's experience as well as provides more information to the clinician.
Chattanooga State Community College is receiving a $475,056 grant to develop a distance learning program that will connect to schools in Kimball and Dayton. The project will involve more than 55 classes. It will include academic advising, financial aid sessions, academic success coaching, as well as intervention and teacher meetings. Additionally, community residents, via connections with Chattanooga State's main campus, will be able to see and hear visiting speakers, authors and scholars' presentations.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center is receiving a $269,792 grant to help create a telemedicine network in Overton, Jackson and Pickett counties. Vanderbilt University Medical Center will be the hub site. Stroke-trained advance practice clinicians will be linked to 15 ambulances to enable EMS personnel to provide advanced, life-saving medical services. Each ambulance will have a tablet, a high-definition camera system and accessories to communicate with the hub site for enhanced medical services. Early detection and treatment of stroke victims is known to greatly improve survivability. This project will provide unprecedented medical treatment advances for rural residents.
The grants are also supporting projects in Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov/tn.