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News Release: USDA Rural Development Announces $2M to Expand Behavioral Health, Intensive Care Across Oregon

USDA Rural Development
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On National Rural Health Day 2023 USDA RD Invests Over $2 Million to Expand Behavioral Health, Intensive Care, and Technical Assistance Projects Across Rural Oregon

PORTLAND, Ore., Month Date, 2020 — United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development (USDA RD) Deputy Under Secretary Farah Ahmad today announced that the agency is investing over $2 million to help rural residents gain access to critical health care services and future telehealth programs across Oregon. The three telehealth projects will make behavioral health care, primary care, and dental services more affordable and accessible for some of the region’s most remote communities.

“Tomorrow morning, an expectant mother will wake up before dawn, get in her car, and drive three and a half hours on mountain roads, through wind and snow, just to reach a routine checkup. That is the reality many rural Oregonians face when trying to access health care,” said Margi Hoffmann, State Director for USDA RD in Oregon. “With this funding, we can connect providers who care with those who need care the most. It is no exaggeration to say that these grants, made possible through historic legislation and championed by the Biden-Harris Administration, will save lives.”

2023 Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants in Oregon include:

  • One Community Health ($439,629): This investment will help equip two hub/end-user sites and two end-user sites in Hood River and Wasco counties in Oregon and Klickitat County in Washington with audio-visual and telehealth equipment. Medical professionals at One Community Health in these counties will be able to deliver diverse medical, behavioral health and dental telehealth treatment at four locations within these Counties to benefit more than 23,000 people.
  • Santiam Memorial Hospital ($996,935): This will help equip one hub site in Multnomah County, Oregon and one end-user site in rural Marion County, Oregon with a virtual ICU program to increase the critical care available at Santiam Memorial Hospital in Stayton, Oregon. Approximately 35 fellowship-trained, board-certified intensivists and 30 highly-skilled registered nurses certified in critical care from Oregon Science & Health University Hospital will provide support and consultation to the Santiam Hospital ICU clinicians and nursing staff whenever needed through on-demand, two-way video communication and patient monitoring to benefit approximately 150 people.
  • Providence Health and Services ($347,347): This investment will help equip three end-user sites in Yamhill, Hood River and Clatsop counties in Northern Oregon with specialized telemedicine equipment. Medical professionals with Providence Health and Services of Oregon in Multnomah County, Oregon will support capacity at smaller rural hospitals with psychological/behavioral health evaluations, stroke evaluations, and neonatal distress evaluations and guidance to benefit more than 2,000 people.

The investments are funded through USDA RD’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant program, which helps rural education and health care providers reach students and patients who would otherwise struggle to gain access to critical services.

Deputy Under Secretary Also Announces Broadband Technical Assistance Award

In addition to these investments, the Deputy Under Secretary also announced that USDA RD will invest $500,000 in a first-in-the-nation Broadband Technical Assistance Program, which will help communities and internet service providers in rural Oregon access and utilize government funding programs. This funding, along with a $85,000 contribution from The Roundhouse Foundation, will give rural communities, Tribes, and the broadband providers who serve them access to the resources they need to capitalize on the unprecedented federal funding opportunities currently available.

“The Biden-Harris Administration and USDA are committed to partnering with people in rural and Tribal communities to ensure they have every opportunity to succeed – and that they can find those opportunities right in their own communities,” Deputy Under Secretary Ahmad said. “We’re proud to partner with local leaders and organizations throughout the Pacific Northwest to make federal funding and resources accessible to people of all backgrounds and circumstances, especially those that have been overlooked in the past. The investments we’re announcing today through our Distance Learning and Telemedicine program and new Broadband Technical Assistance program will keep people in rural areas connected to quality health care and education and lay the groundwork to bring high-speed internet and new opportunities to their communities.”

Through this new program, grant recipient Rural Prosperity Partners will provide technical assistance to communities, Tribes, and broadband providers throughout rural Oregon. This assistance will build long-term, local capacity while creating a pipeline of projects ready and able to compete for future federal funding opportunities. This grant will help Rural Prosperity Partners address fundamental barriers faced by rural communities and ensure that rural Oregonians, including those in frontier districts, will have a fair shot at receiving state and federal broadband funding.

To learn more about investment resources for rural areas, visit www.rd.usda.gov/or or contact the nearest USDA Rural Development state office.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans 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, tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

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