The USDA will award a $999,573 grant to MaineHealth to establish telehealth carts to provide "eConsults" to clinicians across MaineHealth's rural hospitals and practices, especially as they respond to COVID-19.

Rural clinicians will use telehealth carts and peripherals to connect with tertiary care specialists, using a "toolkit," enabling full documentation and ongoing co-management and videoconferencing, all of which will eventually be embedded within the Epic Shared Electronic Health Record.

The project will increase access across MaineHealth's rural service area to cardiology specialty care from Maine Medical Center, the state's largest tertiary care teaching hospital. This project will reduce the rural patient's wait for a cardiology appointment and the clinicians travel time. The project will increase the number of cardiology specialist visits available to rural patients located in 10 counties in Maine and Carroll County, in New Hampshire.

USDA Rural Development Maine State Director Timothy P. Hobbs said, “The Trump Administration understands the critical need for access to quality and timely healthcare in rural areas. This USDA Rural Development Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant to MaineHealth will improve patient access to cardiology specialists, reduce wait times for appointments, support patient care, and invest in the quality of life for people in rural Maine and New Hampshire communities.”

USDA is also funding 116 projects through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant program. The program helps health care and education institutions buy the equipment and software necessary to deploy distance-learning and telemedicine services to rural residents.

For more information on the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program, visit   Maine organizations interested in applying for Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants can also contact Timothy Brooks at To subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit the GovDelivery subscriber page at