Rural Southern New England: Building Healthier Communities for the People Who Power America
By Scott Soures, Director USDA RD Southern New England
As we celebrate National Rural Health Day this year, we are reminded that a strong community is rooted in its people. The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to serving those who live in the rural areas of this country and we at USDA Rural Development Southern New England are proud to be delivering on that commitment to the small towns and communities right here in CT, MA & RI. At the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development, we are hard at work offering myriad resources to the rural and agricultural communities that feed and fuel our nation, reflect maintain the characteristics of our communities and provide the everyday essentials upon which America depends.
As I’ve traveled across Southern New England, I’ve seen firsthand the unique challenges people in rural communities have in accessing the health resources they need and deserve. These challenges are especially true for people living in our nation’s Tribal communities who have been underserved for far too long.
At USDA Rural Development Southern New England, we are 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. That’s why I've been a proud champion of programs like the Emergency Rural Health Care Grants, which was created by President Biden’s historic legislative package, the American Rescue Plan Act.
In the last year, this program has helped many rural health care organizations across our region purchase supplies, deliver food assistance, renovate health care/emergency service facilities, enhance and improve access through telemedicine and provide people with reliable medical testing and treatment.
In Greenfield, MA, I was fortunate to be a part of their November 14 groundbreaking of the city’s new fire station. For this project USDA RD has invested $987,000 in Emergency Rural Healthcare Program grants will be used to purchase vital elements for the new fire station and emergency operations center. The new station will include many important features to ensure the safety and health of the town’s EMS workers. The grant will fund housing for COVID-19 related health and safety supplies and equipment as well as a mobile storage trailer for transport to vaccination and testing sites. In partnership with the community, our support of the Greenfield project strengthens the community and its ability to access to more resilient and impactful community health and safety services.
In Windham, CT we have also proud of additional Rural Healthcare investments in the amount of $580,400 to Day-Kimball Hospital where USDA RD support is being used to upgrade the facilities telemedicine network infrastructure in an effort to better support the rural communities that Day-Kimball serves. This project supports the fact that increasing access to telemedicine and distance learning in rural Southern New England is critical to building healthier and more resilient communities.
Through programs like the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants Program, we are making it easier for people living in rural areas to access health care services remotely.
We have also been proud to provide ongoing support to our rural communities through our Community Facilities program that in many cases has allowed the purchase of ambulances, fire trucks and a broad range of public safety equipment and apparatus that enhance the abilities of our communities to support and serve their community members. Through these investments we are fortunate deliver resources that we know support our communities and the people they serve. In short, USDA Rural Development is a partner who invests in keeping rural people healthy.
Join us this National Rural Health Day, Thursday, Nov. 17 as we celebrate the power of rural. You can learn more about our programs by visiting www.rd.usda.gov