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Biden-Harris Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture Establish New Program to Support Rural Health Care Providers, Invests $6.4 Million

Chris Hart
Release Date
Apr 13, 2022

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Illinois State Director, Betsy Dirksen Londrigan 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 $6,499,000 million.

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.

“With the increase in rural health care needs in Illinois, the USDA, under the leadership of President Biden and Vice President Harris, jumped at the chance to deliver much-needed assistance to these hard-hit communities.” Dirksen Londrigan said. “Programs like this and the American Rescue Plan Act give USDA and other partner agencies the ability to react expeditiously to ensure every Illinoisan has access to high-quality healthcare in their community.”

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:

  • Gibson Area Hospital & Health Services will use a $72,200 grant to purchase lab equipment to allow COVID antibody testing and safely process COVID samples. The equipment will enable the hospital to differentiate between the COVID virus and bacterial pneumonia to administer proper medical treatment. The project includes purchasing a vented safety hood to protect lab staff while processing COVID swabs. Gibson Area Hospital & Health Services operates a critical access hospital with 12 clinics serving five counties in East Central Illinois.
  • Blessing Care Corporation dba Illinois Community Hospital will use a $891,500 grant construct a drive through clinic at Illini Community Hospital located in Pike County. The new facility will provide COVID vaccinations, testing and treatment for patients. The drive through clinic will see all patients with COVID-19 related exposures and symptoms, which will decrease exposure to staff and other patients. This project will broaden access to COVID-19 testing and vaccines as well as increase access to health care services to patients in the rural service area. The project serves 16,430 people.


  • Ferrell Hospital Community Foundation will use a $869,500 grant to convert ten existing patient rooms that were constructed in 2020 to negative-pressure COVID treatment rooms, upgrade five existing semi-private rooms for COVID treatment, provide a new training room to adequately serve the present and future client base and renovate nurse support stations. This project will improve ventilation and isolation needed during pandemic situations.


  • Salem Township Hospital will use a $792,400 grant to renovate the existing Salem Township Hospital and includes construction to the main registration bays, procurement room,  installation of med/surgical negative pressure rooms and four glass doors in emergency room treatment rooms, infusion rooms recliners/Geri chairs, video monitoring system for infusion rooms, nurse call system, Phreesia pads, blood culture incubators, Vapotherm breathing devices, disinfecting sprayer and chemicals, ultraviolet-C disinfection system, personal protective equipment and COVID tests. This project will serve 39,437 people in Marion County, Illinois and will broaden access to COVID-19 testing and vaccines and care as well as treatment and prevention of the spread of the virus and any future viruses.


  • Arrowleaf will use a $362,900 grant to renovate the current community mental health center (also known as an outpatient clinic or behavioral health and addiction treatment center) located in Cairo, Illinois, that serves the residents of Alexander and Pulaski counties. Project renovations include roof, gutters, siding, windows, doors, and parking lot. Interior renovations include repairing walls, new flooring, lighting, restroom fixtures, mechanical system updates, and converting open office cubical areas into closed private offices to meet Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act privacy requirements. These rooms will be utilized for COVID testing areas. COVID vaccination clinics will be held in the lobby area of the facility. Renovations also include a new permanent on-site food pantry that will allow for five days a week accessibility.


  • Tri-State Food Bank Incorporated will use a $201,800 grant to purchase handling and transport equipment for Tri-State Food Bank Incorporated located in Johnson County, Illinois to improve rural communities' access to food. This equipment includes electric forklifts and chargers, electric pallet jack and charger, pallet rack assembly, shrink wrap station, weigh scale, conveyor system assembly, guardrail assembly and a 53' trailer. This vital equipment ensures continued and improved services provided by Tri-State Food Bank Incorporated. While the project is located in the Vienna, Illinois Hub it will serve Johnson, Hardin, Pope, Pulaski, and Alexander counties. This project will strengthen nutritional assistance, help prepare for future pandemics, and ensure continued services through the existing COIVD-19 pandemic. This project will serve 35,771 people  

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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