USDA Awards Million-Dollar Grant to MSM to Support Digital Medicine and Education Initiatives

Funds to help underwrite MSM’s work to deliver culturally competent care and improved health education in underserved, rural communities across Georgia.

ATLANTA-- April 29, 2021 – Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) was awarded a $997,194 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a portion of the $42.3 million the USDA has committed to improved access to healthcare among Georgia’s rural residents, the institution announced today.

MSM, in collaboration with New Horizons Behavioral Health, will use the investment to develop the Georgia Digital Framework of Health Equity. The partnership will be an informal metro-rural healthcare intervention and education consortium that will offer a robust digital flow of treatment, healthcare peer-mentoring, and workforce training.

Serving as hub sites, MSM and New Horizons Behavioral Health will work together to expand the technology infrastructure and extend the telemedicine and telehealth education network in nine rural counties in Georgia. The hub sites will provide services on telemedicine and the corresponding teleHealth training in a holistic rural resident health engagement model at the clinic, community, and school levels. Through this initiative, MSM and New Horizons Behavioral Health estimate that 78,628 rural residents will have access to telemedicine and health education programming.

“We know there are social determinants that effect health outcomes. For people living in rural Georgia, it can be difficult to access quality healthcare,” said Morehouse School of Medicine President and Dean Valerie Montgomery Rice. “The Georgia Digital Framework of Health Equity will help not only provide care to some of the most vulnerable, but also train additional, culturally competent clinicians and secure resources to meet our goals.”

Through the initiative, MSM and New Horizons will work to reduce health disparities and outcome inequities driven by geography, population density, and economic conditions. Telemedicine and distance learning infrastructures, telehealth training programs, and shared healthcare resources will be developed to reach the state’s most vulnerable regions. The goal is to improve quality of life, reduce the rate and severity of disease, and increase treatment access for rural Georgians.

“We are truly honored to partner with such a visionary and historic learning institution as the Morehouse School of Medicine to implement the USDA Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant program,” said Andrea Winston, CEO, New Horizons Behavioral

Health. “The focus of the grant is to help our rural communities utilize telecommunications to connect to each other, and to the world. By doing so all citizens will have access to behavioral health services that are often inaccessible in these areas.”

Collectively, MSM and New Horizons share a 75-year history of combatting health inequity.

“At USDA we’re helping rural America build back better using technology as a cornerstone to create more equitable communities. As health care and education are increasingly moving to online platforms, the time is now to make investments in rural Georgia to improve quality of life for years to come,” said Rural Development Georgia Acting State Director Reggie Taylor.

About Morehouse School of Medicine

Founded in 1975, Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) is among the nation’s leading educators of primary care physicians, biomedical scientists, and public health professionals. An independent and private historically-Black medical school, MSM was recognized by the Annals of Internal Medicine as the nation’s number one medical school in fulfilling a social mission—the creation and advancement of health equity. MSM faculty and alumni are noted for excellence in teaching, research, and public policy, as well as exceptional patient care. MSM is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award doctoral and master’s degrees.

About New Horizons Behavioral Health

New Horizons Behavioral Health is the provider of choice in west central Georgia for Chattahoochee, Clay, Harris, Muscogee, Quitman, Randolph, Stewart and Talbot counties. We provide a full continuum of compassionate behavioral health services to adults and children struggling with Addictive Disease, Mental Illness, and Intellectual Disabilities. Under the leadership of a diverse and representative board of directors, we work diligently to honor our commitment to the individuals we serve by “building better lives”.


Nicole Linton