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Biden-Harris Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture Establish New Program to Support Rural Health Care Providers, Invests $43 Million

Heather Stacy
Release Date

Ohio Rural Communities Receive Over $1.3 Million in Emergency Rural Health Care Grant Funds

Columbus, Ohio, 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 $43 million 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.

“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.”

“The Emergency Rural Health Care Grants awarded today will provide immediate relief and support to rural Ohio hospitals, health care clinics and local communities,” said Jonathan McCracken, Ohio State Director. “These grants expand access to health care services and nutrition assistance which have been critically needed during the COVID pandemic.”

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.

For example:

  • In Gallia County, Holzer Health System will use a $1 million grant to help recover a portion of revenues lost due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Holzer Health System is a critical healthcare provider in the heart of Appalachian Ohio, serving numerous USDA designated distressed and socially vulnerable communities. At the start of the pandemic, Holzer Health established a robust system for maintaining treatment and prevention and was a leader in the region for processing COVID lab tests. Increases in staffing and overtime for testing and treatment in addition to disruptions in ambulatory services, elective surgeries, and shutdowns of non-critical locations resulted in a significant loss to net revenue.  Although covering only a portion of the total loss of revenue to Holzer, this funding will help the hospital continue to provide care to an area heavily affected by the pandemic.  
  • In Knox County, Center of Hope will use a $156,000 grant for updates and repairs to the food prep and distribution facility in Bladensburg, Ohio. Center of Hope is a non-profit that has established itself in the former home of the East Knox Elementary School as a place where residents can go to get supplemental food assistance at no cost. Center of Hope's service area is the southeastern corner of Knox County extending into Coshocton and Licking counties in an area where the Median Household Income is just above poverty. The region is a food desert with Center of Hope being the primary option for many individuals and families in the area with the COVID-19 Pandemic only exacerbating food insecurity. The funds will allow Center of Hope to expand their services with new kitchen equipment and repair and update areas that will offer medical exams, telehealth services, and drop-in health events hosted by local medical partners.
  • In Hocking County, Hocking Valley Community Hospital (HVCH) will use a $107,098 grant to offset the cost of health care equipment needed to address the Coronavirus pandemic. HVCH has been working with area community health care providers to help slow the spread of COVID however, the hospital's resources are overwhelmed by the number of patients needing treatment and emergency services. To aide in area COVID relief and recovery efforts, this grant will provide funding for HVCH to purchase three ventilators, a spectrum IV pump system, hot water tank, and back-up battery for the refrigeration units that house COVID vaccines.
  • In Ross County, Franklin Township will use a $65,180 to purchase an ambulance. This rural county services a population of 1,705 and has experienced an 89% increase in Emergency Management System (EMS) dispatches from 2020 to 2021. This large increase is directly correlated to the effects of COVID-19. These include, direct COVID related EMS dispatches, and a secondary result of individuals seeking less preventative care visits to hospitals and primary care physicians because of COVID, leading to increased usage rates for EMS services. As the current ambulance has outlived its useful life, a new ambulance was greatly needed to continue providing EMS services and handle the increased volume Franklin EMS services is experiencing. It will also provide a better response and higher quality of care for the residents.

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

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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