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Source: United States House of Representatives – Representative Rodney Davis (R-3)

Recipients include Blackburn College, HSHS St. John’s Hospital, Jersey Community Hospital, ROE #17, and Taylorville Schools

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill) today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development office has awarded a total of $3,718,599 Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants to five educational and medical institutions in Illinois’ 13th Congressional District. Recipients include Blackburn College, HSHS St. John’s Hospital, Jersey Community Hospital, Regional Office of Education #17, and Taylorville Community Unit School District #3. Details on these grants can be found below.

“I have worked continuously since taking office to expand access to broadband for our rural communities, especially schools and hospitals,” said Davis. “These grants we’re announcing today go hand-in-hand with those efforts by now using much of the broadband that is in place and putting it to good use. This funding will go a long way in these rural communities to expand distance learning and telemedicine. Amidst the Coronavirus pandemic with many students learning from home and patients opting for telemedicine visits these awards are very timely and necessary.”

“Increasing access to telemedicine and distance learning is critical to building healthier and more resilient rural communities,” said USDA 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.”

Blackburn College, Carlinville: $915,194

This Rural Development investment will be used to enable Blackburn College, along with 12 other school districts in rural Macoupin and Montgomery counties in Illinois, to complete a distance learning project. The project will expand educational opportunities, increase the availability of Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) learning opportunities, increase dual credit courses, and provide teacher professional development. Additionally, equipment that enables interactive video conferencing will be deployed at all sites. The project will serve 3,697 students in sixth through 12th grade. This distance learning project will be within two Opportunity Zones; one in Gillespie, Ill., and one in Hillsboro, Ill.

HSHS St. John’s Hospital, Springfield: $977,429

This Rural Development investment will be used to fund a distance learning and telemedicine project that will help address the problems of rural health professional shortages, including opioid and substance use disorder (OUD/SUD) medical assisted treatment (MAT)-waivered providers, educators, clinicians and behavioral health specialists. The project will also address the problems of a lack of patient access to acute hospital (critical and emergency department) and non-acute (outpatient) clinical care. 

Jersey Community Hospital, Jerseyville: $357,070

This Rural Development investment will assist Jersey Community Hospital District with the purchase of new telemedicine equipment with simulcast and licensing. Jersey Community Hospital will establish a telemedicine program for pediatric patients in the Emergency Department and high-risk pregnancies.

Regional Office of Education #17, Bloomington: $608,944

This Rural Development investment will be used to establish synchronous distance learning among rural high schools. The network will utilize interactive video conferencing equipment, thus allowing them to share resources, classes (including Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM)), and professional development using distance learning. The project will improve issues related to faculty retention and student access to educational services relevant to college and career goals. 

Taylorville Community Unit School District #3, Taylorville: $859,962

This Rural Development investment will be used to help the Taylorville School District provide interactive videoconferencing distance learning classrooms to 14 rural schools across central Illinois, connecting them to the Rural Illinois Shared Education Network. Through this project, districts will share Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) classes and labs, electives, low-density classes, dual credit courses, and nine Advance Placement (AP) courses. The expansion will also add additional classroom space for Chestnut Health so they can meet increasing demand for opioid and substance abuse educational opportunities.