Investments Include $3.7 Million to Help Socially Vulnerable Communities in Washington State
WASHINGTON, Aug. 11, 2022 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Under Secretary Xochitl Torres Small today announced that USDA is awarding $74 million in grants to improve health care facilities (PDF, 321 KB) in rural towns across the Nation. These grants will help 143 rural health care organizations expand critical services for 3 million people in 37 states, Guam and Puerto Rico. The investments include $32 million for 67 rural health care organizations to help more than 1 million people living in socially vulnerable communities.
“Under the leadership of President Biden, Vice President Harris and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack, USDA is committed to making sure that people, no matter where they live, have access to high-quality and reliable health care services like urgent care, primary care, and dental care,” Torres Small said. “The Emergency Rural Health Care Grants being announced today will build, renovate and equip health care provider facilities like hospitals and clinics in rural areas in 37 states. Having sustainable and accessible health care infrastructure in rural areas is critical to the health and well-being of the millions of people living in small towns across the Nation.”
The Biden-Harris Administration made these funds available in the Emergency Rural Health Care Grants Programs 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.
USDA Rural Development promotes a healthy community and environment through the Emergency Rural Health Care Grants to make sure people, kids and families have access to the health care they need. The grants support the ability of rural communities to provide health care to the people and places in our country that often lack access.
The investments 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 Washington State:
Garfield County Public Hospital District #1 will receive a $1 million grant to replace an aging electrical system for a Critical Access Hospital (CAH) to ensure it has the capacity to respond to COVID-19 and future pandemics by upgrading critical electrical infrastructure, including connecting the system to an emergency generator. This will support higher patient volumes in the emergency room and the ability to have improved laboratory services and advanced diagnostic capabilities. This CAH services all of Garfield County, which is the least populated county in Washington state.
Grays Harbor County Public Hospital will receive a $456,800 grant to expand the clinical footprint of Summit Pacific Medical Center (SPMC) for increased capacity of COVID-19 testing and treatment. The current clinical space for specialty and urgent care does not provide capacity to isolate patients who present with respiratory or other COVID like symptoms. This renovation project will provide a dedicated space for patients who need specialty services away from the urgent care clinic with an isolated waiting room to minimize exposure.
Okanogan County Public Hospital District #4 will receive a $1 million grant to upgrade needed heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) including air handlers and electrical systems in the building and demolition and removal of the older HVAC system (installed in 1952). This project will ensure adequate ventilation to aid in the removal of airborne pathogens and benefit 11,500 residents in Okanogan County including the 1,031 residents of the city of Tonasket.
Port Angeles Food Bank will receive a $918,500 grant to help cover expenses for equipment, supplies, staff, and programs needed due to the increase in services provided by the food bank resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, 47,000 individual visits were recorded, an increase of 250 percent from previous years with 1.8 million pounds of food donated and 200,000 meals served monthly. In 2021, the community served included Clallam County with a population of 78,209. The building is in East Port Angeles.
"This is great news for rural Washington!” said Helen Price Johnson, State Director for USDA Rural Development in Washington State. “These investments are targeted to help the people who live outside of the metropolitan areas of our state. This will build a stronger, more sustainable rural health care system to serve our communities hit hard by the pandemic and other health care issues.”
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. 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 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.