WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., and Representatives Gregg Harper, R-Miss., and Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., today welcomed the award of $1,941,653 to support distance learning and telemedicine programs in 15 Mississippi counties. The grants will be awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development program.
“Distance learning and telemedicine technologies are a promising way to transcend traditional boundaries and make efficient use of limited resources,” Wicker said. “These targeted investments from the USDA Rural Development program will help connect students to education, job seekers to employment opportunities, and rural patients to high-quality health care for years to come.”
“The common thread in these grants is a high level of cooperation among healthcare providers, educators, cities and counties. They know that expanding distance learning and telemedicine capabilities can provide better education opportunities and medical care to the people in rural areas of our state,” Hyde-Smith said. “These USDA Rural Development grants will help move these goals forward to improve the quality of life in rural Mississippi.”
“I am pleased to see that these Mississippi applications for the USDA Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant program have been selected,” Harper said. “The projects supported by the USDA funding represent significant educational and healthcare opportunities for Mississippians. Mississippi is considered a national leader in telehealth, and this award expands on that good work.”
“I am pleased to see the USDA is dedicated to developing rural areas, and providing us the resources to meet our unique challenges head on,” Palazzo said. “These grants will provide new opportunities utilizing today’s technology to expand health care access and educational opportunities to Mississippians in rural areas.”
The USDA Rural Development Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants will support the following projects:
- North Pike School District - $498,687.00 to help the school district install distance learning centers in partnership with four K-12 school districts, including South Pike, Simpson County, Yazoo County, and Natchez-Adams. The program will connect students in 16 schools to additional science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) training, including coding and other career-focused activities.
- Holly Springs School District - $491,885.00 to help the school district develop 17 interactive distance learning environments at 12 locations, in partnership with Rust College, Marshal Urgent Care, the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) & Workforce Program Office in Holly Springs, and the North Panola School District. The program will emphasize career and technical training in STEM areas.
- Lauderdale County School District - $478,246.00 to help the school district purchase mobile videoconferencing units for 16 sites in five rural school districts to enable each school to share teachers and resources. Additionally, the program will connect rural residents in Collinsville, Meridian, Liberty, Heidelberg, Tylertown, and Columbia to job placement services, GED programs, skills training, and higher education.
- Forrest County General Hospital - $472,835.00 to help the hospital purchase telemedicine equipment to expand the hospital’s service area in eight counties in South Mississippi. The project will expand psychiatric care, intensive care assessments, and emergency care consultations to rural locations using remote video conferencing and medical diagnostic technologies.