COLUMBUS– Ohio Rural Development State Director David L. Hall has announced the award of two U.S. Department of Agriculture Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) program grants to organizations focusing on opioid misuse treatment, prevention and recovery services in Appalachian Ohio.
“At USDA, we understand the opioid misuse crisis is exacting an outsized toll on our rural communities,” said Hall. “By using technology to knock down barriers to education and recovery, the DLT program helps close the gap for Ohioans unable to travel long distances to reach help. These grants are an important part of USDA’s ongoing, comprehensive efforts to tackle this devastating crisis head-on.”
· Ohio State University will use its $274,961 grant to implement a distance learning project to help prevent opioid misuse disorders in Adams, Athens, Brown, Gallia, Highland, Jackson, Lawrence, Meigs, Pike, Scioto and Vinton counties. Interactive video equipment will be installed at eight locations accessible to more than 31,000 rural residents. In addition to efforts to reduce opioid-related overdoses and misuse through prevention education, the project also will provide recovery and support training to care providers and community members.
· Marietta Memorial Hospital will use its $465,908 grant to implement a telemedicine project, installing interactive video equipment in eight locations in Athens, Jackson, Meigs, Vinton, and Washington counties. The goal of the project is to increase rural access to education, training and healthcare resources accessible to more than 35,000 Appalachian Ohioans.
The two Ohio grants are among 12 totaling $2.75 million announced by Acting Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Joel Baxley. Other projects are located in Alabama, California, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Vermont.
The Distance Learning and Telemedicine program helps rural communities use telecommunications technology to connect to each other and to the world, overcoming the effects of remoteness and low population density. In March 2018, Congress appropriated an additional $20 million explicitly for the DLT program to help address the opioid epidemic in rural America. To learn more about USDA’s efforts in this area, click this link: https://www.usda.gov/topics/opioids.