DURHAM, N.H., January 8, 2024 – Today, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited the University of New Hampshire in Durham, where he highlighted the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to expand access to critical health care services in rural communities in New Hampshire and nationwide. These investments – combined with historic funding for rural America under President Biden’s Investing in America agenda – advance rural prosperity and economic development, ensuring that rural Americans have the fullest opportunity to find success in their hometowns.
As part of the visit, Secretary Vilsack participated in a town hall with University of New Hampshire (UNH) staff and faculty, extension service specialists, producers and local leaders. The discussion focused on the challenges rural communities in New Hampshire face in accessing health care and the detrimental impacts lack of access has on residents’ health, safety and well-being.
"We know that rural Americans face unique challenges in accessing health care in their communities,” said Secretary Vilsack. “USDA, with the support of the Biden-Harris Administration, has devoted significant resources to make it easier and more convenient for rural communities to receive health care services without having to make long drives or delay care. The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to the long-term prosperity and vitality of rural America, and to making sure younger generations know they don’t have to leave home to create a good life in the communities they love.”
During the townhall, Secretary Vilsack also highlighted the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic investments in rural communities through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda. Through the American Rescue Plan, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and Inflation Reduction Act, USDA is helping producers find new revenue opportunities while simultaneously addressing climate change and helping create stronger, more resilient communities. The Biden-Harris Administration is building a system that adds value for farms of every shape, every size, and in every location across the country.
During his visit, Secretary Vilsack highlighted a recent Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant to the University of New Hampshire. In November 2023, UNH received nearly $130,000 to provide video conferencing technology and virtual reality equipment that will be used for rehabilitation services in Strafford, Sullivan, Carroll, and Grafton counties in New Hampshire and Kennebec County in Maine. This grant will allow medical professionals at the UNH Telehealth Practice Center in Stafford County to deliver virtual reality-based rehabilitation via video, also called tele-rehabilitation.
USDA Rural Development has made other investments to increase access to health care in rural areas of New Hampshire through the . Funded by President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act, this program was designed to improve health care facilities in rural towns and support the long-term sustainability of rural health. USDA awarded facilities in New Hampshire over $3 million for seven projects, including:
- Families Flourish Northeast (FFNE) was awarded $1 million to build a new facility at Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital in Lebanon, NH. FFNE will build a residential treatment center for women healing from substance-use abuse to have their children with them as they go through treatment. The center will be able to house 14 women on the campus of Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital.
- The Bowler-Bartlett Foundation received a grant of $281,300 to purchase a mobile clinic van as part of the Northern New Hampshire Mobile Clinic Program serving Northern Coos County, NH. This mobile clinic van will extend community healthcare by fostering immunization and preventative screening services at often-underutilized local sites across rural northern New Hampshire.
- The Upper Connecticut Valley Hospital Association in Colebrook, NH received $507,700 to replace and improve the HVAC system in their 16-bed critical access hospital. These updates to the air-handling system will allow access to both negative and positive pressure among all the in-patient rooms, essential for dealing with airborne contagious viral diseases.
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.
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