BOSSIER, La. – U.S. Representative Mike Johnson (LA-04) today announced more than $2.2 million in federal grants to improve telemedicine and distance learning for Louisianians in the Fourth Congressional District. These investments, administered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), will be used to do the following:
- Improve distance learning for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) courses in public schools.
- Establish telehealth networks and to purchase interactive equipment for medical diagnoses and services for rural health clinics and hospitals.
- Expand mental health, opioid use, and substance abuse treatments and services in rural parishes.
“These unprecedented times have made the need for telemedicine and distance learning more apparent than ever before, and it’s critical that all Louisianians have access to these vital services,” said Johnson. “That’s why I’m pleased to see these investments being made in our rural communities to help expand healthcare and education opportunities. I’m grateful that we have a president who supports such innovation, and I look forward to seeing this technology being put to use in our communities.”
Note: The USDA Distance Learning and Telemedicine grants were awarded to the following organizations serving Louisiana’s Fourth Congressional District:
Sabine Parish School Board – $864,881
- This Rural Development investment will be used to enable the Sabine Parish School District to provide one-to-one Chromebooks for students in grades 3-8 for the purpose of making real time connections to educational experiences related to Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) courses. The project will support supplementing classroom instruction by connecting students to outside experts, promoting cultural interaction and comparisons, enable collaborative student projects at a distance, and virtual field trips. It will also provide remote support for students with special needs and pathways through distance learning to nine rural schools and one professional development center. This investment is designed to make distance learning experiences and other technologies readily accessible to elementary and middle school students and teachers. The investment will also provide opportunities to high-quality STEM courses and programs for Sabine Parish 3-8 elementary and middle school students. Additionally, it will increase the number of educators prepared to teach STEM courses through new and expanded educator preparation, training, and professional development. This project will impact 1920 students and approximately 125 teachers in two counties in Louisiana.
Sabine Parish School Board – $835,204
- This Rural Development investment will be used to enable the Sabine Parish School District to provide Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) courses and pathways through distance learning to seven rural schools and one professional development center located within Sabine Parish in west central Louisiana. The project will make distance learning and other technologies readily available to students and teachers while providing access to high-quality STEM courses and programs for high school students in grades 9-12. It will also increase the number of educators prepared to teach STEM courses, including Advanced Placement (AP), dual credit coursework, and approved STEM JumpStart pathways. This will be made possible through new and expanded educator preparation, training, and professional development. The project will also increase participation among groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM including minorities and female students. This will help them overcome barriers and provide rigorous and engaging learning experiences in STEM. More than 1,200 students and approximately 100 teachers in Sabine Parish and Natchitoches Parish will be served through this distance learning network.
Natchitoches Parish Hospital Services District – $290,439
- This Rural Development investment will be used to establish a telehealth network for medical diagnoses and services. The services will be delivered by interactive video conferencing to rural patients in three Louisiana parishes. This telemedicine project will expand quality health care to affected communities including some located in Opportunity Zones. The primary technology proposed is video conferencing equipment used in conjunction with telemedicine carts to allow physicians to diagnose patients.
Council For Advance – $253,961
- This Rural Development investment will be used to expand mental health, opioid use disorder and substance use disorder services in six rural Louisiana parishes, including Allen Parish. A telecommunications system including both distance learning education and telemedicine services will be provided to patients and clients of all ages with the highest connectivity currently available. The project will focus on opioid use and substance use disorder treatment. The project will serve northwest Louisiana rural areas and provide increased primary care and behavioral health access and services to predominantly low-income patients. Providers are the frontline first responders of the healthcare delivery system and opioid epidemic in Louisiana.