Grants Are an Investment in Quality Health Care and Critical Community Infrastructure
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., July 25, 2023 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small today announced that USDA is expanding access to health care for more than 5 million people living in 39 states and Puerto Rico as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda. In Delaware and Maryland, twelve organizations are receiving funding.
“During one of the most critical times in our nation’s history, the Biden-Harris Administration responded to deliver immediate economic relief and ensure rural people have access to quality health care,” Deputy Secretary Torres Small said. “USDA’s Emergency Rural Health Care Grants are helping strengthen rural America’s health care infrastructure to build for the future.”
David Baker, USDA Rural Development State Director for Delaware and Maryland, said “We are proud to announce twelve grants in Delaware and Maryland totaling over $4.5 million! Though this investment, USDA Rural Development is funding community health centers, hospitals, telehealth, food pantries, and ambulances in rural areas. This funding makes a meaningful difference in the lives of rural people in Delaware and Maryland by providing access to critical infrastructure and investing in their quality of life.”
- Beebe Medical Foundation has received a grant in the amount of $850,000. This Rural Development investment will be used to support the reimbursement of health care-related revenue loss associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Beebe Medical Center needed to divert staff and other resources to the critical need to establish testing, vaccination services, and treatment services to fight COVID-19. The community Beebe Medical Center serves will benefit from this investment mostly by allowing this medical center to continue to service its patients who have been economically and physically effected by COVID-19.
- Marydel Volunteer Fire Company Inc. has received a grant in the amount of $202,840. This Rural Development investment will be used to purchase an ambulance and emergency vehicle equipment for the Marydel Volunteer Fire Company (VFC). The need to purchase a newer ambulance with updated equipment has become a concern during the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, Marydel VFC experienced an increase of 27 percent in call volume. Emergency response incidents increased from 655 in 2021 to 900 in 2022. Marydel VFC will replace a nine year old ambulance in their fleet that has surpassed its life expectancy. The area to be served is rural and serves both Maryland and Delaware.
- Milton Community Food Pantry Inc. has received a grant in the amount of $61,200. This Rural Development investment will be used to purchase a building to be used as a food storage and distribution facility, and to upgrade its refrigeration and walk-in freezer. Funds will also be used to purchase bulk food over the next three years to ensure food is readily available. The community served includes senior citizens, veterans, people with disabilities, and families in need. With a dedicated building, Milton Community Food Pantry Inc. (MCFP) will be able to operate more effortlessly with increased storage and space for packing food. The facility will be operated in a drive through model increasing safety, with minimal exposure and contact for clients and volunteers while still getting food to them. The purchase of the walk-in freezer will allow MCFP to "rescue" more food by having a larger space for storage. The facility is located in unincorporated area of Milton.
- The Springboard Collaborative Inc. has received a grant in the amount of $722,300. This Rural Development investment will be used to purchase, prepare, and distribute nutritious food each day to the 40 residents of Pallet Village in rural Georgetown, Delaware, over the next three years. The Springboard Collaborative Inc. (TSC Inc.) - Pallet Shelter Village seeks to develop a meal program to provide the homeless community with access to nutritional foods. TSC Inc. plans to decrease acute and chronic illness by teaching good eating habits, growing fresh foods, and providing skills for healthy food preparation.
- Brook Lane Health Services Inc. has received a grant in the amount of $661,500. This Rural Development investment will be used to purchase a Cerner electronic health record (EHR) software system for Brook Lane Health Services. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Brook Lane started introducing more telehealth systems for patient care. The new system will integrate both the clinician and patient experience into one efficient database, portal, and platform.
- Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center has received a grant in the amount of $538,500. This Rural Development investment will be used to increase food distribution efforts on the Maryland Eastern Shore by partnering with Chesapeake Culinary Center for the establishment of Eastern Shore Delmarva Farm to Freezer project, a produce processing and aggregation facility. The facility will occupy 5,000 square feet, with half the space used for processing and individual quick frozen equipment and the other half set aside for refrigerated, freezer, and dry storage and staging for shipping and receiving. The community served by this project includes several counties on the Eastern Shore - Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne's, Somerset, Talbot, Wicomico, and Worcester - where the estimated poverty rate is over 13 percent and access to nutritious food is limited.
- Hancock Rescue Squad Inc. has received a grant in the amount of $233,800. This Rural Development investment will be used to purchase an ambulance that will replace the second ambulance in their fleet of emergency vehicles for Hancock Rescue Squad Inc. Hancock Rescue Squad Inc. recognized the urgent need to update their emergency vehicles due to the medical surge of the COVID-19 pandemic. This ambulance will include UV light system for disinfection; heating, ventilation, and air condition (HVAC); air disinfection, and power-loading system for patients. Hancock Rescue Squad Inc. is an eligible nonprofit corporation located in Hancock, Maryland.
- Interfaith Service Coalition of Hancock has received a grant in the amount of $198,000. This Rural Development investment will be used to support Interfaith Service Coalition (ISC) Inc.'s food distribution program in Hancock, Maryland. ISC is the only agency in Western Washington County offering this type of service, with the next closest facility being 30 miles away. Funding will be used to purchase bulk food, distribution supplies and equipment. It will also allow ISC to bring on essential staff to help run the distribution program after COVID-19 restrictions limited staffing.
- Lifestyle of Maryland Foundation Inc. has received a grant in the amount of $275,200. This Rural Development investment will be used to expand Lifestyle of Maryland Foundation Inc. (LMF Inc.) food bank and food distribution operations, by providing direct food assistance and food access programs to low-income individuals and families and elderly/disabled individuals. LMF Inc. plans to purchase two refrigerated trucks to assist with delivery of food, as well as bring on an additional staff person to operate the warehouse. With the rise of COVID-19 and its continued presence, homelessness and food scarcity are very prevalent in the Lexington Park area. This investment will allow LMF Inc. to distribute healthier, fresher food to their community on a continual basis.
- Pocomoke City has received a grant of $271,000. This Rural Development investment will be used to purchase an ambulance for Pocomoke City, Maryland. This is the second ambulance funding request from Pocomoke City under the Emergency Rural Health Care grant program. This new ambulance will replace a vehicle from 2016 that does not meet the safety standards for preventing the spread of COVID-19 to patients and emergency medical staff personnel. Pocomoke City has recognized the urgent need to update its emergency vehicles due to the medical surge of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Rock Hall Volunteer Fire Company Inc. has received a grant in the amount of $342,500. This Rural Development investment will be used to purchase an ambulance and equipment for Rock Hall Volunteer Fire Company (VFC). This new ambulance will replace a sixteen-year-old ambulance that is obsolete, requires too many repairs, and does not meet the modern safety standards required for safety against spreading COVID-19. Rock Hall VFC is the only access to emergency services in the region, and there are no practicing physicians or nurses in the rural town. Many patients need to be transported to larger cities in Maryland, like Chestertown, Annapolis, or Baltimore. This created a capacity issue during the COVID-19 pandemic with the rise in emergency calls.
- The Galena Volunteer Fire Company has received a grant in the amount of $187,000. This Rural Development investment will be used to purchase an ambulance and equipment for the Galena Volunteer Fire Company (VFC) fleet of emergency vehicles. The need to purchase a newer ambulance with updated equipment has become a noticeable concern for Galena VFC as the COVID-19 pandemic progressed throughout the last three years. Galena VFC is seeking to replace the third ambulance in its fleet. This ambulance is 20 years old and experiencing reliability issues with constant costly repairs. The vehicle has also accumulated more than 110,000 miles and does not meet current COVID-19 safety standards for ambulances. Galena VFC serves the municipal boundaries of six rural town in Maryland: Galena, Kennedyville, Millington, Betterton, Cecilton, and Georgetown.
Nationwide, USDA is awarding $129 million in Emergency Rural Health Care Grants to improve health care facilities in rural towns across the nation. These grants will help 172 rural health care organizations expand critical services.
Today’s investments will help regional partnerships, public bodies, nonprofits and Tribes solve regional rural health care challenges. These solutions will build a stronger, more sustainable rural health care system for the nation’s small towns and communities.
Torres Small announced the awards today at the University of Virginia. USDA is providing a grant to the university’s Virginia Consortium to Advance Healthcare in Appalachia, a not-for-profit group that will use the funds to expand access to health care and telemedicine in Wise County. The funding will also help the group expand regional networks for resource sharing, training, education and communications. This group will also develop a blueprint for addressing pandemic emergency chronic illnesses and enhancing the long-term sustainability of rural health care.
The investments USDA is announcing will also expand health care services in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Puerto Rico.
This funding is made possible by President Biden’s 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.
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.
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