Agriculture Deputy Secretary Merrigan Announces North Carolina Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants | USDA Newsroom
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News Release

Release No. 0183.12
Office of Communications (202) 720-4623

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Agriculture Deputy Secretary Merrigan Announces North Carolina Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants

GREENVILLE, NC, June 6, 2012 – Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan today traveled to North Carolina to announce funding of over $500,000 in Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grants to two regional health centers.

"Access to quality medical care around the clock is the foundation for a healthy, thriving community," said Deputy Secretary Merrigan. "USDA Distance Learning and Telemedicine grants such as those awarded today to Vidant Health and the Ocracoke Health Center ensure all North Carolina residents have crucial access to state-of-the-art telecommunications equipment connecting patients with medical professionals.

Merrigan announced the two North Carolina DLT grants during a visit to Vidant Health. Earlier in the day she gave keynote remarks at the USDA Small Business Training and Matchmaking conference and held a White House Business Council Round table with Morrisville producers and community members.

Vidant Health received $161,047 in grant funding to provide video and audio telemedicine equipment to increase health care in four northeastern counties of rural North Carolina. Partnering with Vidant Health, Vidant Medical Center in Greenville will serve as the tertiary hospital to extend its specialty services to Vidant Duplin Hospital in Duplin County, Vidant Roanoke-Chowan Hospital in Hertford County, Vidant Chowan Hospital in Chowan County and Vidant Edgecombe Hospital in Edgecombe County.

In addition, Ocracoke Health Center will receive $358,967 in grant funding for the purchase of cart-based video conferencing units specialized for medical practice that will allow 12 simultaneous connections with high definition video. The project also includes peripheral technology such as digital stethoscopes for exams and laptops used to access patient records.

"These distance learning and telemedicine grants, administered through the Rural Utilities Service can eliminate the barriers of time and distance that often challenge rural areas," said Randall Gore, USDA Rural Development State Director.

Since taking office, President Obama's Administration has taken historic steps to improve the lives of rural Americans, put people back to work and build thriving economies in rural communities. From proposing the American Jobs Act to establishing the first-ever White House Rural Council – chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack - the President is committed to a smarter use of existing Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $165 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural areas.

USDA Rural Development has seven Area Offices and 14 field offices across the state serving North Carolinians living in rural areas and communities. Area Office locations are in Asheville, Shelby, Lumberton, Asheboro, Henderson, Kinston and Smithfield. Further information on rural programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting the USDA Rural Development website at


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