Iowa Health - Des Moines has been awarded an $8.3 million grant by the U.S. Department of Commerce Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) to upgrade and improve broadband technology. Iowa Health - Des Moines had sought this grant to increase access to and improve the quality of healthcare for many Iowans. Clarke County Hospital in Osceola, Greene County Medical Center in Jefferson, Grundy County Memorial Hospital in Grundy Center and Guthrie County Hospital in Guthrie Center will participate in the program.
The grant will fund the Rural Iowa Telehealth Initiative, a program established to deliver affordable healthcare and education to Iowans living in rural and, often, the most medically underserved communities. The Telehealth Initiative will increase broadband service and technology in these communities to ensure public safety workers, residents and healthcare professionals have access to information and the best training and tools available. The Telehealth Initiative will also assist rural Iowa communities with their ongoing economic development efforts.
"This $8.3 million grant will have a significant positive impact on how healthcare is delivered to many Iowans," said Steve Stephenson, M.D., Chief Operating Officer for Iowa Health - Des Moines. "This program will increase the speed critical medical information travels between care centers, improve workforce training and add to the educational opportunities available throughout Iowa. Ultimately, the project will also bring economic regeneration in our communities that have been affected by the recent downturn in the economy."
The BTOP grant was made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which provided a total of $7.2 billion to US Department of Commerce National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) to fund projects to expand access to broadband services. NTIA is utilizing $4.7 billion of that funding for grants to deploy broadband infrastructure in the United States, expand public computer center capacity, and encourage sustainable adoption of broadband service. Iowa has received total grant allocations of more than $90 million, including an additional $17.7 million grant to Iowa Health to upgrade its existing fiber network.