Trump Administration Invests $3 Million in Distance Learning and Telemedicine Infrastructure in South Carolina

Distance Learning and Telemedicine Investments will Benefit Rural South Carolina Residents

Columbia, S.C., Oct. 7, 2020 – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue along with South Carolina United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development State Director Debbie Turbeville today announced that the USDA is investing $3 million in grants to help rural residents gain access to health care and educational opportunities in South Carolina. These investments will benefit rural South Carolina residents.

“Increasing access to telemedicine and distance learning is critical to building healthier and more resilient rural communities,” said Secretary Sonny Perdue. “Paired with our monumental effort to expand high-speed broadband access in rural America, these investments will help rural health care centers and education institutions reach more rural residents with essential services and opportunities. Under the leadership of President Trump, USDA is committed to being a strong partner to rural communities because when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”


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“We are thrilled to announce these projects in South Carolina,” said Turbeville. Projects like these help our rural communities use telecommunications to connect to each other and the world.”

Background:
USDA is funding 116 projects located through-out the country through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grant program. The program helps health care and education institutions buy the equipment and software necessary to deploy distance-learning and telemedicine services to rural residents.

Perdue announced investments today in Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Hampshire, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Wyoming, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Here are examples of projects announced in South Carolina today:

• The South Carolina Department of Corrections received $995,129 in USDA funding to be used to facilitate the delivery of health services including substance abuse treatment and mental health treatment to a prison inmate population via secure interactive video conferencing. The inmates will access these videoconferences through either a medical cart, a laptop in their housing unit, or in a meeting room with a videoconferencing system and large video display. The project will provide benefits to 15,120 people located in 16 counties in South Carolina.

• The University of South Carolina received $431,278 to assist the University to replace and upgrade their obsolete equipment now being used to deliver distance learning. The new equipment will allow the college to effectively and reliably deliver instruction with a distance and two-way learning network encompassing six rural counties in South Carolina.

• The Northeastern Technical College (NETC) received $750,000 in USDA funding to upgrade the distance learning network in counties of Chesterfield, Marlboro, and Dillon. The funding will allow the College to purchase and install interactive videoconferencing equipment at four rural Hub / End User campuses and one correctional institution in the college's service area. The college sites will each be equipped with five distance learning rooms while Evans Correctional Institution will receive four video and virtual reality equipped rooms. The interactive videoconferencing systems will provide virtual connections between NETC and the correctional institution classrooms at the same time. With the additional rooms the college will be able provide complete college and technical programs to prepare inmates for careers after their release from incarceration with the goal of reducing recidivism. The system includes high-definition equipment to provide several connections, cameras that automatically track teachers and students, large high-definition monitors, and high-resolution audio.

• In addition, NETC received $850,000 in funding to upgrade the College's Distance Learning network for four college campus sites, eight high schools and one applied technology center located in Chesterfield, Marlboro and Dillon counties. This investment will provide more STEM based dual enrollment courses that these students wouldn’t otherwise have access to. This will help with improving the educational outcomes of approximately 4,859 students and benefit all the residents of these counties.

To learn more about investment resources for rural areas, interested parties should contact their USDA Rural Development state office. USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs 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 areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov/sc.

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

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