USDA invests $2.18 million in Maine facilities to help expand rural education and health care

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Donald “DJ” LaVoy has announced that USDA is investing $42.5 million in 133 distance learning and telemedicine projects in 37 states and two U.S. territories. USDA is providing the funding through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grant program. These investments will benefit 5.4 million rural residents.

“Distance learning and telemedicine make it easier for thousands of rural residents to take advantage of economic, health care and educational opportunities without having to travel long distances,” says LaVoy. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA is committed to partnering with rural communities to help them improve their quality of life, because when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”

USDA Rural Development State Director Timothy P. Hobbs says, “Quality healthcare and education in rural areas are essential to creating strong and vibrant communities in Maine. The distance learning opportunities provided by these funds will help thousands of students expand their horizons, while telemedicine technology will help improve healthcare access and support rural individuals and families in living longer, healthier lives.”
In Maine, six organizations have been selected to receive a total of $2.18 million:
• Androscoggin Home has been selected to receive a Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant in the amount of $215,900.

• MaineHealth has been selected to receive a Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant in the amount of $473,739, to allow MaineHealth to create a telemedicine network to treat opioid disorders experienced by rural women and infants.

• Children's Center: Early Intervention, has been selected to receive a Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant in the amount of $300,818.

• Northern Light Health has been selected to receive a Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant in the amount of $191,496. This Rural Development investment will enable Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems dba Northern Light Health to implement a telemedicine project. Telehealth carts, with two-way audio-visual and diagnostic capabilities will be installed at several Northern Light hospitals including: Blue Hill Hospital (Blue Hill), C.A. Dean Hospital (Greenville), Inland Hospital (Waterville), Maine Coast Hospital (Ellsworth), Sebasticook Valley (Pittsfield), and A.R. Gould Hospital (Presque Isle). The project will serve 54,333 residents.

• Western Foothills Reg. School Unit #10 has been selected to receive a Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant in the amount of $499,676.

• University of Maine System has been selected to receive a Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant in the amount of $500,000. The Rural Development investment will enable the University of Maine to implement a distance learning technology upgrade. The University will provide teaching services to rural Maine students. The project will include 62 sites, centers and campuses. The counties benefiting from the project are Penobscot, Kennebec, Franklin, Aroostook, Washington, Cumberland and Androscoggin. Over 29,000 students will be served.

USDA is announcing investments in Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Applicants eligible for Distance Learning and Telemedicine grants include most state and local governmental entities, federally-recognized tribes, nonprofits, for-profit businesses and consortia of eligible entities.

For more information on USDA Rural Development’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program, contact Robert Nadeau, Program Director, at (207) 990-9121 or robert.nadeau@usda.gov.