The federal government is awarding grants for broadband projects to increase access to job training, educational and health care services in rural Georgia, including Fannin, Gilmer and Pickens counties.
“Connecting rural communities to education and health care resources is vital for rural prosperity,” said Joyce White, USDA's state Director for Rural Development in Georgia. “Maximizing broadband capabilities with the DLT program improves quality of life through telemedicine and telehealth and digital learning.”
Nationwide USDA is awarding 72 grants totaling $23.6 million through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program. This program funds equipment that uses broadband to help rural communities connect to advanced learning and specialized medical services.
The grants are supporting projects in Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Here are the projects USDA is supporting in Georgia:
• Augusta University Research Institute is receiving a $310,950 grant to create an emergency telehealth network connecting five end-user sites to a Hub at the Institute: Miller County Hospital, Crisp Regional Health Services, Emanuel Medical Center, Washington County Regional Medical Center and Wills Memorial Hospital. The project will provide direct, two-way links between emergency rooms at the end-user sites and the Augusta University Medical Center as well as provide 12-lead EKG machines in three ambulances dispatched from the Washington County Regional Medical Center. Equipment will include telepresence carts, EKG machines, ultra-sound systems, video laryngoscopes and digital stethoscopes.
• Chattahoochee Technical College is receiving a $480,000 grant to establish distance learning capabilities to reach schools in Gilmer, Paulding and Pickens counties. This will enable rural students to participate in classes via distance learning to receive the support they need to ensure they graduate on time. Health program classes will be a top priority, given student demand for these classes and the high demand/high-wage nature of health careers. Video capability will be established at Gilmer and Pickens High Schools and at the main offices at Paulding County Schools to enable dual enrollment and teacher professional development.
• Quorum Health Corporation is receiving a $485,395 grant to purchase equipment to provide enhanced telemedicine services to hospitals, medical clinics and schools in eight states. The project will benefit one hub and 16 end-user sites, including nine hospitals and medical centers, and seven school-based health clinics in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia (including Fannin County Hospital in Blue Ridge), Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas and Tennessee. The project will provide telemedicine carts, cameras and monitors to allow interactive video communications between clinicians and remote patients or students. The technology will enable images and media content to be shared.
For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.