By Helen Price Johnson, Washington State Director
On National Rural Health Day, we embrace the enduring spirit of rural Washington. Through the lens of USDA Rural Development, we pay homage to the unwavering efforts of individuals and communities dedicated to improving healthcare accessibility. In the heart of the Evergreen State, where vast wheat fields extend beyond the Cascades, and dense forests cloak the western landscape, USDA Rural Development acknowledges the pivotal role played by healthcare providers in nurturing the health and prosperity of our rural neighbors.
Since the start of 2020, USDA Rural Development has invested over $326 million through our Community Facilities Program, with a significant portion dedicated to healthcare facilities and equipment. Across all quarters of the state, our commitment to enhancing the quality of life for rural residents remains steadfast. Here are a few examples.
- In Southwest Washington, Summit Pacific Medical Center invested $30 million with Rural Development's support to construct a three-story, 60,000 square-foot Wellness Center. This new facility fosters collaboration with community partners, bringing specialized resources to Grays Harbor County.
- In Southeastern Washington, Prosser Memorial Health reached a milestone with its $112 million hospital complex, replacing an aging facility from 1947. The last structural beam, adorned with signatures of employees and donors, was raised on October 26.
- In Northeastern Washington, serving many remote surrounding communities, Lake Chelan Health unveiled a new 52,250-square-foot hospital in October 2022, featuring 12 patient rooms, two operating rooms, and 24/7 maternity capability, with a total investment of $22.3 million.
- And just this week, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack visited the University of Washington School of Dentistry in Seattle where he announced a $1 million distance learning and telemedicine grant (the 4th award within five years) to continue training new dental professionals, enhancing access to dental telemedicine services in rural communities throughout Washington and Montana.
As we celebrate National Rural Health Day, we are proud to partner with these rural communities, and salute the local champions who have stepped up to sow the seeds for a healthier, more vibrant rural Washington.
Together, America prospers.