Puerto Rico has been awarded nearly $1.9 million for two projects — the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust and the Migrant Health Center Western Region Inc. — that will provide enhanced access to telemedicine and online education to rural communities.
The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grant program, which is allocating a total of $72 million for 116 projects to help rural residents gain access to health care and educational opportunities. The investments will benefit more than 12 million rural residents, the agency said.
The program helps health care and education institutions buy the equipment and software necessary to deploy distance-learning and telemedicine services to rural residents.
The Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust was awarded a grant of $998,076 for a telemedicine project that will provide approximately 33,000 patients throughout 18 rural municipalities with improved access to clinical service by Board Certified Physicians.
The project’s distance learning component will also provide health-related education and training in telemedicine specialty services to remote and underprivileged communities in Puerto Rico, said Josué E. Rivera, USDA Rural Development State Director for Puerto Rico.
Meanwhile, Migrant Health Center Western Region Inc. will receive $869,565 in grant funding to provide substance abuse disorder treatment, mental health counseling, and primary care to more than 750 low-income patients along eight rural municipalities.
The project will also deliver education through training and workshops to health providers and patients regarding mental and primary health conditions, substance abuse disorder, and self-management strategies.
“These Distance Learning and Telemedicne grants will provide telecommunication links to an end user to provide pre-defined educational programs, instructions and information, to students and teachers who are located in rural areas,” Rivera said.
“Telemedicine capabilities will facilitate the provision of clinical services by Board Certified Physicians to improve health care and provide timely access to medical specialists in remote areas,” he added.