The U.S. Department of Agriculture is giving more than $500,000 to expand virtual health care services in parts of rural Missouri. The USDA is providing the funding through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grant program.
Through the grant, Mercy Virtual will install video equipment to provide remote health services in parts of eastern, southern and southwest Missouri. The effort is expected to provide health care to about 210,000 area residents.
The grant will also allow Salem Memorial District Hospital in southern Missouri to put technology connecting rural Missouri schools in Dent, Reynolds, Iron, and Shannon Counties to Phelps Health Hospital in Rolla and SSM Health in St. Louis. The project is said to increase health care access to 2,300 rural Missouri students.
In 2017, President Donald Trump created the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force.
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