WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded $229,806 in grants to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and the Hospital Council of Western Pennsylvania to improve access to health care in rural communities in Western and Central Pennsylvania.
“These funds will help health care providers take advantage of technological advancements to provide the best possible care to our rural communities,” said Senator Casey. “I am pleased the USDA recognizes the need to focus on Pennsylvania’s rural communities.”
UPMC will receive $125,773 to enable patients at eight medical facilities in Armstrong, Blair, Clarion, Jefferson, Potter, Clearfield and Fulton counties to link directly to UPMC specialists at two primary UPMC hubs to acquire surgical assessments and physician consultations. Rural physicians and health care providers at those rural facilities will be able to connect directly to specialists for consultation and to take part in medical seminars and training.
The Hospital Council of Western Pennsylvania will receive $104,033 to establish a medical distance learning network. The grant will fund video conferencing equipment at the Hospital Council site to connect 15 rural hospitals and medical centers to the Hospital Council and to two other sources of medical distance learning in Johnstown and Pittsburgh.
The funding is provided by the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program, which provides access to education, training and health care resources in rural areas.
The DLT grants fall under USDA’s rural development mission area, which is designed to improve the economic stability or rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers to improve quality of life in rural America.