U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Pennsylvania State Director Bob Morgan today announced that Rural Development is investing $4.7 million in seven organizations to help people in rural Pennsylvania access remote education and health care resources.
“Education and health care are vital pillars to sustaining and improving the quality of life in our rural communities,” Morgan said. “The USDA Distance Learning and Telemedicine program allows rural Pennsylvanians the capital necessary to ensure their students, teachers, patients, and health care professionals have the technology necessary to stay connected virtually.”
Rural Development’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants help fund real-time, interactive distance learning and telemedicine services in rural and tribal areas to increase access to education, training and health care resources that are otherwise limited or unavailable. This effort is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal that every American has access to affordable, reliable, high-speed internet. Digital equity is an important component of that mission. For instance, the DLT program gives students the opportunity to participate in classes virtually. DLT funds can also help connect rural people virtually to medical professionals without leaving their home.
In total, Rural Development is investing $4,742,260 to seven projects in Pennsylvania through its DLT grant program to the following organizations:
Geisinger Clinic in Montour County – $948,741
This Rural Development investment will be used to equip one hub site and two end-user sites throughout Montour and Northumberland counties in central Pennsylvania with innovative virtual care telemedicine devices. Medical professionals at Geisinger Justin Drive in Montour County, Pennsylvania will deliver virtual nursing care to two locations benefitting 21,551 individuals.
Cen-Clear Child Services Inc. in Blair County – $150,863
This Rural Development investment will be used to equip one hub site and seven end-user sites throughout Centre, Huntingdon, Clearfield, Blair, Elk, and Mifflin counties in central Pennsylvania with interactive telehealth equipment. Medical professionals at Cen-Clear Child Services Inc. will deliver mental health care/psychiatric services and substance/opioid use disorder treatments with medication-assisted treatments to seven locations benefitting 7,435 individuals.
Conemaugh Township Area School District in Somerset County – $939,512
This Rural Development investment will be used to connect 11 hub sites and one end-user site throughout Somerset, Cambria, Blair and Allegheny counties in western Pennsylvania with telehealth and distance learning equipment. Instructors at Penn Highlands Community College, University of Pittsburgh Johnstown, Greater Johnstown Career and Technology Center and other area colleges and museums will deliver distance learning in the form of dual enrollment courses, foreign language instruction, virtual field trips, and educational experiences benefitting 483 students.
Forest Hills School District in Cambria County – $549,589
This Rural Development investment will be used to equip 11 hub sites and two end-user sites throughout Cambria, Dauphin, and Blair counties in central Pennsylvania with telecommunications equipment. Instructors at Forest Hills School District will deliver instructional content to 13 locations benefitting 1,707 students.
Port Allegany School District in McKean County – $599,382
This Rural Development investment will be used to equip two hub sites and two end-user sites throughout McKean, Warren, and Potter counties with video conferencing equipment. In addition to the mental health care services, instructors at the University of Pittsburg – Bradford and Northern Pennsylvania Regional College will provide STEM education through coding classes benefiting the same individuals. Counselors at the University of Pittsburg – Bradford and Northern Pennsylvania Regional College will deliver mental health care to two locations benefitting 507 individuals.
Punxsutawney Area Hospital Inc. in Jefferson County – $838,749
This Rural Development investment will be used to equip six hub site and one end-user site in Jefferson County in west central Pennsylvania with audio and video telemedicine technology. Medical professionals at Punxsutawney Area Hospital, Behavioral Health Services, IRMC/ PAH Specialty Services, Indiana Regional Medical Center in Jefferson County and Tyrone Penn Highlands will deliver mental health care including substance and opioid use disorder treatment, specialty consultations, in real time to pne location benefitting 5,962 individuals.
The Harrisburg Area Community College Foundation in Dauphin County – $715,424
This Rural Development investment will be used to equip three hub sites and one hub end-user site throughout Adams, Dauphin, Lancaster, and York counties in southeastern Pennsylvania with interactive teleconferencing equipment. Instructors at Harrisburg Area Community College in Dauphin, Lancaster, and York counties will deliver Biology, Business, Criminal Justice, English, Healthcare Management, Mathematics, Mechatronics, Medical Assisting, Nursing, and Psychology courses to three locations benefiting 7,620 students.
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs, and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety, and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov/pa.
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