(St. Cloud MN-) Representative Collin Peterson today announced that CentraCare Health System will receive a USDA Rural Development grant that will expand access to education and health care opportunities in rural Minnesota.

CentraCare Health System is receiving a $234,648 Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant to establish a telemedicine project and address the shortage of specialty care physicians in rural areas. Video equipment will be placed at 10 locations in eight central Minnesota counties: Kandiyohi, Meeker, Mille Lacs, Renville, Stearns, Swift, Todd, and Wadena. An additional 73 individual patient sites will be added as a result of this project with an estimated additional 2,000 patients served over the project’s two-year period.

“This grant will broaden the range of critical medical services accessible in rural areas specifically connecting facilities across eight counties,” Peterson said. “Removing barriers to access is key to improving health conditions for individuals and families in these communities.”