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Schumer, Gillibrand announce over $132,000 in federal funding to combat opioid crisis in Souther Tier

STAFF REPORTS


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced $132,899 in federal funding to Southern Tier Health Care Systems, Inc. The grant was provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Distance Learning and Telemedicine program.

The funds will be used to purchase telecommunications equipment for a distance learning program. The equipment will allow Southern Tier Health Care Systems, Inc. to connect with four end-user sites in Salamanca, Cuba, Franklin, and Gerry. Through this program, Southern Tier Health Care Systems, Inc. will provide education for emergency response personnel and community services, including the Allegany Indian Reservation Volunteer Fire Department. The equipment will help offset the costs of certification training for emergency personnel responding to opioid overdoses in these communities. In addition, the equipment purchased will be used to provide educational services to preserve the linguistic and cultural heritage of the Seneca Nation.

“This is a smart federal investment which will provide medical professionals in the Southern Tier with access to new lifesaving courses and certifications programs online,” said Senator Schumer. “These federal funds will also help the Southern Tier address the opioid epidemic and promote public health. I will continue to work to help ensure first responders have the tools they need to combat the opioid epidemic and treat suspected overdoses.”

“This funding will expand opportunities for emergency responders in rural areas across the Southern Tier to virtually attend courses that provide lifesaving training and certification and important educational programs," said Senator Gillibrand. "In rural communities throughout the Southern Tier, our emergency responders are working tirelessly to combat the opioid economic and respond to overdoses. This grant will help provide some of the tools and resources they need to continue serving their communities."

"Southern Tier Health Care System (STHCS) provides certification support and continuing education for 93 EMS agencies spread across Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties through our Southern Tier Emergency Medical System (STEMS) program. Keeping pace with the newest information and a rapidly changing medical system is an immense challenge for providers. This is especially true for our volunteer EMS providers, who are balancing their EMS duties with the demands of work and their family responsibilities. Sometimes the distance to a training can be a barrier for these providers. It’s a huge commitment to travel an hour or more both ways to attend a night-time training and stay current with skills and knowledge,” said Donna Kahm, President and CEO of Southern Tier Health Care System. “The USDA Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant will allow us to use state-of-the-art distance learning equipment to provide training opportunities closer to home for EMS providers in Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties. We will be able to add one hub site at the Southern Tier Health Care System Training Center in Olean and four new end-user sites for EMS training and education. The new end-user sites at the Allegany Indian Reservation Volunteer Fire Department, Cuba Ambulance Service, Franklinville Fire Department and the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department will greatly reduce travel time for providers attending training. We’ll be able to ensure that our EMS providers have easier access to the high-quality training they need. We are excited about strengthening the capacity of our emergency medical system through this grant from the USDA."

USDA Rural Development Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants aim to provide access to education, training, and health care resources for rural Americans. The grants can be used to purchase equipment such as transmission facilities, audio equipment, interactive video equipment, and computer hardware, as well as technical assistance for using eligible equipment. More information can be found here.