TOPEKA – The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Wednesday announced the agency is investing $781,127 to provide telemedicine software and equipment to bolster health care access in central Kansas, including Barton, Ellsworth, Rice and Stafford counties.
This rural development investment will help Barton County and the three other counties establish telehealth programs that connect vulnerable populations to vital services that address public health needs and substance use disorder treatment, said Barton County Grant Coordinator Sue Cooper.
“Collaboration and strategic planning are at the heart of Barton County’s success, and this project speaks to our administrative ability to put long-term planning into action,” Cooper said. “Living in rural Kansas means we need to act cooperatively for the prosperity and well-being of our residents.”
“Telemedicine provides more medical resources to difficult to reach populations,” said USDA State Director for Kansas Lynne Hinrichsen. “This project enhances the focus on direct patient care delivered via telemedicine. Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, USDA has been working tirelessly to be a strong partner to rural America in building stronger and healthier communities, because we know when rural America prospers, all of America prospers.”
The grant will:
• Connect existing county services to critical healthcare providers.
• The interactive equipment will allow Barton and Ellsworth county jails remote access to nursing and physician services and decrease the costs associated with transporting inmates. • Clients of the Barton, Ellsworth, Rice, and Stafford county health departments will access public health services remotely.
• Central Kansas Community Corrections and the 20th Judicial District Juvenile Services will be able to provide vital counseling, treatment, and educational programs that address substance use disorder.
• Create regional access to essential healthcare services and improve patient outcomes.
Cooper said there will be some match money in Barton County, making the investment in Barton County more than the amount of the USDA grant.
Wednesday’s announcement is in conjunction with a larger announcement made by USDA, where it is investing $72 million in 40 states through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program These investments will benefit more than 12 million rural residents.
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas.
For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov/ks or call 785-271-2700.