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Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Just a few days ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a statement announcing grants to help fund telehealth initiatives in rural areas. The total of the grants exceeds $30 million. You can view the statement here.
A serious shortage of health care professionals is the primary reason for the injection of funds. The shortages are most severe in rural areas like the frontier regions of South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, etc. The USDA highlights South Dakota as an example: 83% of South Dakota’s counties are designated shortage areas, a staggering number. In an interview following the announcement of these new grants, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said, "Rural Americans deserve the same opportunities for education and medical care as metropolitan-area residents, and these funds will make that happen."
Grants like those being offered by the USDA have been instrumental in developing and expanding telehealth services cost effectively to the smallest and most underserved hospitals and communities in our nation. Initiatives like this remind us of the need for better care in remote areas, and the power of telehealth to meet that need.