The U.S. Department of Agriculture is giving over $1 million to the distance and telemedicine grant program in Utah. This project is part of agriculture secretary Sonny Purdue’s plan to expand e-connectivity to rural areas.
More than 4.5 million residents in 40 states and three territories will benefit from the USDA’s funding for health and education according to Randy Parker, the Utah state director of USDA rural development.
“Our belief is this will help to provide the same opportunities in healthcare and in education in these isolated rural communities that the rest of us enjoy in the urban parts of the state,” Parker said.
Parkers said close to 90 percent of Utah’s population live in urban areas. Places like San Juan County have limited access to healthcare and education. The San Juan County school district is receiving over $400,000 to help expand interactive video classrooms and replace equipment for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The USDA is partnering with Utah State University with USU receiving close to $500,000 to expand broadcast capacity for STEM programs to Duchesne, Grand, San Juan, Sanpete and Uintah Counties.
”That’s where much of America’s new wealth is generated,” Parker said. “Our food, our fiber, energy, both traditional and renewable, mining, timber and recreating. That all takes place in our rural communities and that’s a critical part of the success of our country.”
The Utah Navajo Health Systems is receiving over $130,000 for telemedicine services at each of the four health centers in San Juan County. Parker said this provides medical attention to people who are not able to travel because of their remote locations.