Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that funding is available through USDA’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program (DLT) to increase educational opportunities and expand access to health care services in rural areas.
Since its creation in 1993, the DLT program has invested $306 million to fund more than 920 projects in 48 states and four territories. Funds may be used to acquire end-user telecommunications equipment such as videoconferencing equipment needed to provide distance learning and telemedicine services to rural communities. For example, from 2003 to 2008, REACH Montana, – a consortium of healthcare providers – used DLT grants totaling $787,000 to create a telecommunications network linking area hospitals through live, interactive video technology. The USDA grants helped REACH, which stands for Realizing Education and Community Health, upgrade its telecommunications facilities and connect 15 of its local critical access hospital sites to each other and medical facilities throughout the world. With the REACH network, Montana residents have benefited from community health education programs, distance education for medical professionals, and variety of clinical services such as orthopedic care, home health monitoring, mental health consultations, wound care management, neurology, burn care, and genetic consultations, CT/MRI and tele-radiology services.
Information on how to apply can be found in the March 19, 2010 Federal Register and the FY 2010 DLT Grant Program Application Guide ( http://www.usda.gov/rus/telecom/dlt/dlt.htm).
Applications must be received by May 18, 2010. Grant awards can range from a minimum of $50,000 up to a maximum of $500,000. This is a competitive grant program and funding is contingent upon applicants meeting program eligibility requirements and the conditions of the funding agreement. The funding is from USDA’s annual budget and not the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Further information can be obtained by visiting USDA’s DLT website at http://www.usda.gov/rus/telecom/dlt/dlt.htm.