U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Under Secretary Xochitl Torres Small today announced that USDA is awarding $110 million in grants to improve health care facilities in rural towns across the nation. These grants will help 208 rural health care organizations expand critical services for nearly five million people in 43 states, and Guam, including $1,020,307 invested in Nebraska.
“Access to modern and sustainable health care infrastructure is critical to the health, well-being, and prosperity for the millions of people who live in rural and tribal communities,” Torres Small said. “That’s why the Biden-Harris Administration remains committed to making sure that people who need it most, no matter where they live, have access to high-quality and reliable health care services like urgent care, primary care, and dental care. Through the Emergency Rural Health Care Grants I am announcing today, USDA is being a strong partner to people in 43 states and Guam.”
In Nebraska, the Village of Wauneta has received $511,820 to remove and replace the facility's heating and cooling system with individual terminal air conditioner and heat pump units, and new efficient furnaces for the building's central heating and air conditioning. Improvements include an air filtration system to address the current COVID-19 pandemic and potential future pandemics ensuring air safety of the residents of the Village of Wauneta's Wauneta Care and Therapy Center. This system does not exchange air between rooms. Funding also provides for the installation of an emergency generator. This project is expected to provide residents a safe, secure environment for the 577 village residents.
Harlan County Health Systems has received $65,001 to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, boost immediate health care needs, and help plan for a future pandemic event. This investment will increase access to quality health care services in Harlan and Furnas counties’ service area of 8,326 residents. Harlan County Health System will provide telemedicine capabilities to improve access to acute emergency and inpatient care, as well as additional outpatient services, and medical services not currently available in this rural area, including acute neurology, pulmonology, and cardiac care. This increased access will allow Harlan County Health System to track important medical information, which will be critical in the case of future pandemic events.
Jefferson Community Health Center, Inc has received $443,486 to reimburse certified operating losses sustained during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recovery of lost monies will assist this rural community hospital recover economically from the impacts of the pandemic. These recovered funds will ensure the service area has equitable access to health care by supporting staffing and health care needs, as well as broadening access to COVID-19 testing and vaccines, health care services, and preparation for future pandemic events to improve community health outcomes.
These USDA investments will help build, renovate, and equip health care facilities like hospitals and clinics in rural areas. They also include more than $9 million for 12 rural health care organizations to help 187,000 people living in energy communities, which are areas with high concentrations of coal-dependent jobs. This funding will help communities that are vital to our country’s energy production as the nation transitions to a clean-energy economy.
The Biden-Harris Administration is making this Emergency Rural Health Care Grants Program funding available through its historic legislative package, the American Rescue Plan Act. The 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 investments will be used for projects such as those to 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. They will also help regional partnerships, public bodies, nonprofits, and tribes solve regional rural health care problems, which will help build a stronger, more sustainable rural health care system in response to the pandemic.
Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act in March 2021 to deliver immediate economic relief to people impacted by the pandemic. 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 August 2021, USDA made the Emergency Rural Health Care Grants available through the American Rescue Plan Act 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.
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, health care, and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal, and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov/ne.
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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.
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