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Telemedicine and Distance Learning Investments Announced for Maine
By Ed Gilman Office Rep Michaud
Feb 6, 2014 - 12:03:03 AM

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WASHINGTON, DC -- The USDA Rural Development has announced that a total of $687,782 in grants has been awarded to Maine for distance learning and telemedicine initiatives. The projects funded are designed to expand educational opportunities for Maine students and provide necessary equipment to monitor patients in rural areas.

"USDA has a strong track record of helping rural communities build the infrastructure it needs to get ahead, and I'm pleased this funding has been improved. The opportunities provided through these investments will greatly benefit Maine's students as well as provide necessary medical services to some of our most rural populations."

Descriptions of the projects provided by USDA Rural Development can be found below:

$103,235 -- Community Health & Counseling Services

Rural Development funds will be used to purchase in-home patient monitors, medication dispensers and screening monitors for Community Health and Counseling Services, a provider of health services monitoring patients in Piscataquis and Washington counties with three specific conditions: 1) congestive heart failure; 2) known medication compliance issues; and 3) individuals in need of speech language pathology to address swallowing disorders. This project is unique in its technology - it functions using plain old telephone service or cellular connections. Having the most basic transmission requirements to operate the tele-monitoring system gives the project the ability to penetrate further into rural areas while reducing the cost of delivering the healthcare service. And by virtue of its telemedicine function, the project reduces preventable hospital visits and emergency room visits, saving time and money across the board.

$336,908 -- Maine School Administrative District #54

Rural Development funds will be used to fund computer and related equipment for a (laptop)-based distance learning system. Students will be able to participate in live classes and work through structured content presented and mediated by the distance learning application server. Maine School Administration District #54 is the lead applicant in this health education and wellness initiative, a partnership between Regional School Unit #19, Maine Administrative Districts #53, and #74, Health Sebasticook Valley Coalition and the Greater Somerset Public Health Collaborative. The objective of the initiative is to increase elementary, middle and high school students' knowledge and practice of important health and wellness concepts. The project will involve 22 schools serving a total of 6,470 students, 575 teachers, 12,940 parents and 33,250 community members.

$247,639 -- Maine School Administrative District #37

Rural Development funds will be used to acquire the equipment and software necessary to establish a seamless distance learning connection between the schools of the Maine School Administrative District 37 and those of the Machias Bay Area School System into a distance learning symbiotic network. Adding to this rich educational environment, the MSAD will tap into the online resources of the University of Maine State Network. The new equipment and its capabilities will provide students with a much wider range of classes and teachers, opening up opportunities for college preparatory classes, dual credit courses, healthcare, diet, drug prevention, and youth group services. Adult education classes will also be carried on the distance learning system, as well as professional development, and public service courses, such as emergency planning.

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