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Biden-Harris Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture Establish New Program to Support Rural Health Care Providers, Invests $2.5 Million in Rural North Carolina

Robert Kerns
Release Date
Apr 13, 2022

RALEIGH, N.C., April 13, 2022 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the establishment of a program under President Biden’s American Rescue Plan to expand rural hospitals and providers’ access to COVID-19 vaccines, testing, and supplies, while helping rural health care providers stay financially solvent in the long-term.

The initial awards of the Emergency Rural Health Care Grants total $2.5 million to benefit people who live and work in rural North Carolina.

This announcement is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Rural Infrastructure Tour, a multi-faceted outreach effort involving cabinet and sub-cabinet officials across federal agencies as they travel to and learn from rural communities across the country.

“Under the leadership of President Biden and Vice President Harris, USDA mobilized our staff and resources to respond in record time to improve the long-term viability of rural health care providers and services across this nation,” Vilsack said. “USDA used an all-hands-on-deck approach to create the Emergency Rural Health Care Grants program to address a variety of immediate health care needs and services in rural communities. The American Rescue Plan Act and this program are examples of the government’s ability to respond quickly to ensure every person and family has access to high-quality health care no matter their zip code.”

For example:

  • Goshen Medical Center will use a $1 million grant to purchase five heavy duty diesel trucks, generators, computers, and a trailer with a customized interior to be used as a medical unit, along with a variety of medical supplies to equip the mobile units. The grant also allows the hiring of five employees including a FNP or PA, LPN, receptionist, vaccine/testing coordinator, and a outreach coordinator.  These mobile medical units will act as the power source and transportation for each unit. The equipment, supplies, and staffing will aid in stopping the spread of COVID-19.
  • High Country Community Health Inc. will use a $1 million grant to renovate a portion of the facility to be used as a dental and medical clinic with exam rooms, behavioral health counseling rooms, and administration office space. The grant will facilitate the purchase of exam tables, laboratory testing equipment, vaccine refrigerators, x-rays, sterilization equipment, scales, dental operation equipment, and other medical devices aimed at prevented care. A total of 28 new staff members will be hired within two years of construction completion. These positions include physicians, a nutritionist, clinic support, counselors, patient resource specialist, a nurse, a dentist, hygienist, assistants, and interpreters. The project will allow the hospital to expand the medical service offerings that are desperately needed in the community due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Hot Springs Health Program will use a $25 thousand grant to purchase air purifiers for exam rooms. The purchase will include 40 new air purifiers for exam rooms in all four clinic locations, which will provide better safety and reduce the potential of spreading COVID-19 and other communicable diseases to providers and clients.
  • Johnston County Public Schools will use a $382 thousand grant to convert nursing stations, at four schools, into on-site testing locations where two full time nurses can administer vaccinations, and quarantine individuals if needed. The grant will also allow the purchase of telehealth video equipment for Selma Elementary School, Selma Middle School, Benson Elementary School and Benson Middle School. The equipment will aid in stopping the spread-transmission of COVID-19.
  • Our Community Hospital Inc. will use a $125 thousand grant to renovate the nurses' stations. The grant will also allow the purchase of a van, surveillance cameras, hands free equipment for the nurses' stations and a new phone and fire alarm system.

“These announcements are proof that President Biden believes that when rural communities thrive, America thrives,” said Rural Development State Director Reginald Speight. “Building A Better America means that no community is left behind as we take advantage of this historic investment. Every American should have the opportunity to build a good life and succeed, without needing to leave the community in which they live.” 

The initial awards of the Emergency Rural Health Care Grants total $43 million nationwide and will benefit 2.2 million people who live and work in rural America.

Awardees include 93 rural health care organizations and community groups across 22 states.

The investments announced today will expand health care services in Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.

The Biden-Harris Administration made these funds available through its historic legislative package, the American Rescue Plan Act. Within months after the Act’s passage, USDA responded quickly by making this funding available to ensure the long-term availability of rural health care services. In total, the program will use up to $475 million in grants provided by President Biden’s American Rescue Plan to expand rural hospitals and providers. Additional awards will be announced in the coming months.

The grants USDA is awarding will help rural hospitals and health care providers implement telehealth and nutrition assistance programs, increase staffing to administer COVID-19 vaccines and testing, build or renovate facilities and purchase medical supplies.

USDA will announce additional awardees for Emergency Rural Health Care Grants in the coming weeks and months.

Background: Emergency Rural Health Care Grants

Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act in March 2021 to deliver immediate economic relief to people impacted by the pandemic.

In August 2021, USDA made the Emergency Rural Health Care Grants available through the American Rescue Plan to help rural health care facilities, tribes and communities expand access to health care services and nutrition assistance.

The assistance is helping provide immediate relief to support rural hospitals, health care clinics and local communities. USDA is administering the funds through Rural Development’s Community Facilities Program. 

Background: Rural Infrastructure Tour

Under the leadership of the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA and its federal partners in the Infrastructure Implementation Task Force are working with rural communities to deliver on the promise of support for rural America.

The Rural Infrastructure Tour is a multi-faceted outreach effort involving cabinet and sub-cabinet officials across federal agencies as they travel to and learn from rural communities across the country. These visits will highlight new federal funding and investments already underway through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, a once-in-a-generation investment that will support rural communities and their infrastructure needs.

Under the Biden-Harris Administration, 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. If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit the GovDelivery subscriber page.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.


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