Wicker, Hyde-Smith & Guest Announce $5.26M for Rural Health, Education Projects

February 26, 2021

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., with U.S. Representative Michael Guest, R-Miss., today welcomed the award of more than $5.26 million to boost rural telemedicine and distance learning capabilities across Mississippi.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development awarded grants for 10 Mississippi projects to improve health and education responses to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The grants are funded through the CARES Act and other congressional appropriations.

“These investments from the USDA will help connect more Mississippians to telehealth and distance learning opportunities,” Wicker said. “I look forward to increasing access to these vital resources for all Mississippians.”

“Expanding the ability of public schools, libraries, and health facilities to use technology to reach people in rural Mississippi is essential as we work our way through the pandemic,” said Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee. “The projects funded by USDA Rural Development will have the added benefit of helping students, seniors, businesses and many others in the years to come when COVID-19 no longer dominates the headlines.”

“I’m proud to have consistently supported USDA’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine program and to promote these useful tools that bring our state closer together, particularly during these times. With technology, we are reducing the distance between doctors and patients and connecting more students with new and unique ways of learning. I’m proud to work with our delegation to advance these priorities for our state and rural America,” Guest said.

A total of $5,266,706 in Rural Development grants for Mississippi include:

  • Delta Regional Medical Center, Greenville – $995,958 to support telemedicine services from 15 sites in Washington, Issaquena, Humphreys, and Sharkey counties, and will use the Center’s Greenville and Arcola facilities as network hubs connecting six schools, a community health clinic, a skilled nursing facility, and other sites.
  • Mississippi Authority for Educational Television, Jackson – $936,228 to support adding capacity and schools to the Authority’s Digital Education Network distance learning technologies through hub sites in Hinds and Bolivar counties and end-user sites in 15 counties.
  • Mississippi Board of Nursing, Ridgeland – $879,163 to support expansion of the Board’s distance learning network to 23 higher education campuses in 19 counties to enable remote medical education and training. 
  • University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson – $868,690 to support new telemedicine carts and platform software to upgrade capabilities at 20 hospitals in 17 Mississippi counties.
  • Calhoun County School District, Pittsboro – $442,325 to support installation of teleconferencing equipment at eight schools and the Calhoun County Career and Technical Center. This project also involves partnerships with Northwest Mississippi Community College, Base Camp Coding Academy and Communicare.
  • Mississippi State University, Starkville – $421,350 to support access to distant learning through the RELIANT (Reliable Internet Access for Networked Telecommunications) project, which involves 89 sites in all 82 Mississippi counties.
  • University of Mississippi, Oxford – $334,112 to support, in partnership with community colleges, the development and deployment of virtual centers to support small businesses and entrepreneurs, and to improve access by rural residents in 27 counties to resources offered by local, state and federal entities and non-profits.
  • Mid-Delta Durable Medical Equipment, Inc., Belzoni – $182,653 to support installation of interactive distance learning equipment for caregivers who are providing end-of-life care for rural residents.  In partnership with Mississippi Valley State University and Aaron E. Henry Community Health Centers, Inc., this project would benefit rural residents in Humphreys, Bolivar, Coahoma, and Leflore counties.
  • Lincoln-Lawrence-Franklin Regional Library, Brookhaven – $127,492 to support installation of permanent distance learning training labs in four libraries in Lincoln, Lawrence, and Franklin counties.  This project involves partnerships with the Mississippi Library Commission, Copiah-Lincoln Community College, and King's Daughters Medical Center.
  • North Panola School District, Sardis – $78,735 to support installation of distance learning carts at North Panola High School and North Panola Career Technical Education in order to enable the Northwest Mississippi Community College and other entities to deliver courses, content, and training.