Where USDA telemedicine grants are going

Ozarks Medical Center in Missouri and Flagstaff Medical Center in Arizona are among hospitals in 25 states across the country that will receive federal funding for telemedicine projects. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that nearly $16 million in USDA grants would be disbursed for distance learning and telemedicine services.

The USDA's Distance Learning and Telemedicine Loan and Grant program provides funding to rural hospitals, clinics, schools and libraries for equipment and technical assistance for telemedicine and distance learning. Grant recipients must demonstrate that they serve rural America, prove there is an economic need and provide at least 15 percent in matching funds.

Since 2009, the USDA has invested almost $150 million in the Distance Learning and Telemedicine program. The investments complement other USDA efforts to improve rural communications. In FY 2013, the USDA provided $305 million in loans for broadband infrastructure. These loans will result in new or upgraded broadband service for about 120,000 rural households, businesses and community institutions once the projects are completed.

Hospitals receiving telemedicine grants are:

Alaska

Chugachmiut: $180,656

Funds will be used to re-establish a telemedicine network between Native village sites in the Chugach region and offices in Seward and Anchorage. Clinics in the villages of Tatitlek, Chenega, Port Graham and Nanwalek will be linked with Anchorage and the North Star Clinic.

Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium: $114,842

Funds will be used to purchase video teleconferencing equipment systems for virtual sessions between patients and healthcare providers. It is projected that nearly 3,200 people will benefit in the first year alone. The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium includes nine organizations that deliver innovative telehealth solutions throughout the  Alaska Federal Health Care system.

Arizona

Flagstaff Medical Center: $129,412

Funds will be used to purchase digital electronics and software for a telemedicine system linking Flagstaff Medical Center with clinics in Coconino, Apache, Mohave and Navajo counties. This system will connect local caregivers and their patients with specialists at Flagstaff.

Kentucky

Norton Healthcare Foundation: $259,607

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