CentraCare Health in Minnesota has been awarded a grant $234,648 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to improve its telehealth services by installing video equipment in clinics.

The grant is intended to address specialty physician shortages in rural areas, according to a news release Thursday from U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith and Rep. Tom Emmer.

The money will be used to install video equipment at 10 clinics across nine counties. The USDA estimates that expanded telemedicine services could help 2,000 more patients over the project's two-year period.

Through similar federal grants, CentraCare expanded its Telestroke and Vascular Neurology Clinic and telehealth services for its mental health programs in 2018. These services use video technology to allow patients to connect with specialty physicians at their home clinics.

In September 2018, CentraCare debuted an online clinic system that connects patients to health care professionals through online forms, phone or video calls. That service helped over 3,800 patients in 2018.

The 2019 grant was part of a group of grants to schools and healthcare providers for projects improving distance learning and telemedicine totaling $42 million, according to a USDA release from Wednesday, Nov. 20.