U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development California State Director Maria Gallegos Herrera today announced that USDA is awarding more than $6 million in grants to improve health care facilities in rural towns across California. These grants will help rural health care organizations expand critical services in rural areas of California.
“Access to healthcare is a critical and basic human need,” said Herrera. “The pandemic has shined a spotlight on the health disparities that have long existed in rural communities. As rural residents confront limited access to healthcare, they have also faced increased exposure to COVID-19. Today’s Emergency Rural Health Care awards will help communities hit hardest by the pandemic secure more access to COVID-19 testing and vaccines, improve healthcare services, and prepare for future public health emergencies.”
The investments USDA is announcing will help build, renovate, and equip health care facilities like hospitals and clinics in rural areas.
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.
Recipients this round include:
- The Tuolumne County Fire Department was awarded three grants this round.
- One grant for $269,500 to purchase two ambulances for Sonora, replacing an aging vehicle fleet that has worn out due to increased service calls from COVID-19 related medical services. The ambulance will provide service to the rural communities of Sonora City, Columbia, Jamestown, Chinese Camp, and Tuttletown. This project will promote vaccine and testing for COVID-19 to support long-term sustainability of rural health care.
- One grant for $26,900 to purchase an ambulance to replace an aging and worn vehicle that was relied upon to respond to increasing service calls related to COVID-19. Tuolumne County Health and Human Services Agency's Groveland Ambulance Station serves the most rural areas of the county by maintaining paramedic advance life support and a variety of critical health care services related to the pandemic. The station provides coverage 24-hours a day and serves the rural communities of Groveland and Pine Mountain Lake. This project will promote vaccine administration and COVID-19 testing to support long-term sustainability of rural health care.
- One grant for $396,370 to purchase and install two generator systems for behavioral health, public health, and social service facilities in rural Tuolumne County to support residents' health care needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The generator systems will provide onsite cold storage for the COVID-19 vaccines and will maintain health and human service operations related to the pandemic in the event of a power outage, including emergency access to government-funded shelter, food, clinical, and behavioral programs.
- The Westside Family Preservation Services Network was awarded two grants this round.
- One grant for $126,500 to purchase a refrigerator and freezer and to hire two full-time medical assistants necessary to help at-risk, farm worker and migrant families obtain food, medical treatment, and access to COVID-19 vaccinations and testing in Coalinga, Huron City, and the surrounding areas. The equipment and staff will help Westside Family Preservation Services Network provide a needed service to an at-risk community, many of whom are nutritionally compromised, lack transportation to seek health treatment and testing and lack the resources to seek help outside their encampments.
- One grant for $275,800 to purchase six hybrid vehicles, telehealth computers, food bags, a refrigerator, and a freezer necessary to help at-risk, farm worker and migrant families obtain food, medical treatment, and access to COVID-19 vaccinations and testing in Huron City, and the surrounding areas. The equipment will help Westside Family Preservation Services Network provide a needed service to an at-risk community, many of whom are nutritionally compromised, lack transportation to seek health treatment and testing and lack the resources to seek help outside of their encampments.
- The Mendocino Coast Healthcare Foundation was also awarded two grants this round.
- One grant for $199,500 to provide staff salaries for personnel administering COVID-19 testing, for computer and software to input data from testing, and for staffing to administer testing. COVID-19 testing will focus on engagement and facilitating remote care that will help broaden testing access to support long-term sustainability of rural health care in Mendocino County.
- One grant for $140,960 to be used for telehealth services, food distribution and COVID-19 testing. Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center (MCHC) provides the local rural community with homeless shelters that provide a safe place to sleep, services and resources for people without homes. This includes transitional housing, food distribution, shelter beds, meals, laundry services, and showers year-round. MCHC is a not-for-profit organization formed in 1986, with a current objective to provide free meals, emergency shelter and services to those in need. Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, the need has increased; and resources have been strained. These items will allow a strong focus on client engagement and facilitating telehealth with video visits with primary care providers, mental health professionals or specialists. The new appliances will support meal preparation. This grant will benefit 1,452 people.
- Parents and Friends Inc. was awarded $450,100. This Rural Development investment will be used to expand COVID-19 testing and vaccinations to people with developmental disabilities and to staff of Parents and Friends, Inc. This project will also assist with COVID-19 testing, coordinating tests, test tracking, and vehicles to take clients to vaccination appointments. Weekly testing and vaccinations as recommended, will allow the people with developmental disabilities to participate and reside in the programs that Parents and Friends, Inc. provide within CDC guidelines, keeping clients and staff as safe as possible.
- The Hoopa Valley PUD was awarded $311,900. This Rural Development investment will be used to provide a space for training medical staff on the use and deployment of electronic health records. This project will also include installment of electronic doors for the clinic that serves the rural community of the Hoopa Valley Tribe, California.
- Community Recovery Resources was awarded $164,440. This Rural Development investment will be used to replace health care related lost revenue that was incurred during the pandemic. The project will also ensure that Grass Valley, Nevada County residents have a facility suitable to care for their mental and behavioral health plus provide COVID-19 care, vaccines, and testing.
- Cancer Resource Centers of Mendocino County was awarded $25,000. This Rural Development investment will be used to purchase equipment and a vehicle needed to help with high-risk cancer patients seeking treatment and testing for COVID-19. This project will include a transport vehicle, telehealth iPads, mobile hotspot, and a telehealth computer. The equipment will help Cancer Resource Centers provide a needed service to an at-risk community, many of whom are immunocompromised and feel insecure seeking treatment and testing in the general population.
- Nevada - Sierra Connecting Point Public was awarded $592,400. This Rural Development investment will be used to implement a community data exchange project. The main purpose of the data base is to schedule appointments for vaccinations and testing, while also providing food security to the surrounding community in need.
- Mariposa County was awarded $172,200. This Rural Development investment will be used to purchase equipment for food preparation and the delivery across the rural communities of Mariposa County due to the growing need of food insecurity resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District was awarded $65,900. This Rural Development investment will be used to help deliver vaccines to rural communities through mobile vaccine clinics. Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District's mobile unit travels to multiple rural cities in the county on a regular schedule, providing screenings and treatment for people at risk of COVID-19 and other chronic health conditions. The unit also provides medication management, eye and dental care, immunizations, facilitation of telemedicine consultations with specialists, and other healthcare services. This mobile clinic is a self-contained unit and will help deliver services in geographically isolated areas or small towns that may lack access to healthcare providers and COVID-19 immunizations and treatments.
- Plumas District Hospital was awarded $1,000,000. This Rural Development investment will be used to construct a skilled nursing facility on a 3.3-acre site, owned by the district and across the street from Quincy's main hospital campus. The project will help fill the gap left by the closure of the community's only similar facility. Quincy's aging population and the recent relocation trends to California rural communities are expected to continue. This project will help avoid long commutes to other areas, meet local growing healthcare needs, and generate revenue to help improve community health care services and programs. The 22,507-square-foot construction will have a support-services building with a wing of resident rooms. The facility concept provides a home-like environment in function and aesthetics. Breaking the rooms into pods will resemble a cabin from the streetscape. This carries through to the interior, where bedrooms share a living space, giving the building a lodge/hospitality feel. A highlight of the structure includes a central nursing station with satellite stations in each pod allowing for isolation of parts of the wing in the event of a transmissible illness. Small exterior courtyards will be utilized for residents' outdoor amenities
- Mendocino Community Health Clinic Inc. was awarded two grants.
- One grant was for $131,100 to facilitate Mendocino Community Health Clinic, Inc. [MCHC (Little Lake HC)] to hire an infection control nurse who will be responsible for the coordination of virus prevention and treatment services of COVID-related care on behalf of MCHC, and the management of all vaccine inventory. This project will also include the purchase of a TruMed AccuVax machine, a TruMed AccuShelf, welcome tablets for touchless patient interactions, and a generator to power them in an emergency. MCHC offers medical, dental, and behavioral health services from four health clinics, two located in Ukiah and two in Lake County, one being the Little Lake Health Center. The Little Lake Clinic houses the administrative, medical, dental, and behavioral health services for the region. In addition to serving the health needs of the residents of Willits, Little Lake also has patients that come in from the neighboring counties.
- One grant was for $218,500 to an Infection Control Nurse (ICN) who will be responsible for the coordination of virus prevention and treatment services of COVID-related care on behalf of Mendocino Community Health Clinic, Inc. (dba Lake View Health Center), and the management of all vaccine inventory. This project will also include the purchase of two TruMed AccuVax machines, two TruMed AccuShelves, a welcome tablet for touchless patient interactions, and a generator to power them in an emergency. The clinic offers medical, dental, and behavioral health services from four health clinics, two located in Ukiah, and two in Lake County, one being the Lakeview Health Center. The center houses the administrative, medical, dental, and behavioral health services for the region. In addition to serving the health needs of the residents of Lakeport, Lakeview also has patients that come in from the neighboring counties.
- Adventist Health System West was awarded $722,300. This Rural Development investment will be used to purchase the equipment and to fund staff wages needed to help with COVID-19 patients and operate a mobile health clinic. This project will include wages for a licensed vocational nurse, two medical assistants, health educator, and driver. Equipment will include the mobile clinic, refrigerator truck, portable equipment, and generator. The equipment will help Adventists Health enhance their COVID-19 vaccine/ testing capabilities in underserved areas. Adventist Health System-West primarily serves rural communities, and its service area encompasses approximately 680-square miles and extends about 70 miles south from the Humboldt/Mendocino County line. AHS-W is the only hospital readily available to the residents of Fort Bragg and the Mendocino Coast.
- The Toiyabe Indian Health Project Inc. was awarded $991,240. This Rural Development investment will be used to renovate the main medical building and modular auxiliary building. This project will enable Toiyabe Indian Health Project, Inc. to more effectively meet the medical and mental health needs of residents that have been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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.
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.