$830,000 will Improve Access to Dental Care in Rural Maine
Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced that USDA is investing $501 million in 60 projects to help improve health care infrastructure in rural communities nationwide.
“Access to health care is essential for every community,” Hazlett said. “It supports a high quality of life, and it helps businesses attract and retain workers. USDA is partnering with rural communities across the country to help rural residents and workers get access to modern, convenient health care services.”
USDA Rural Development State Director Timothy P. Hobbs said, “Ensuring Maine’s rural healthcare facilities are thriving and providing the best care possible to Maine residents is a top priority for USDA Rural Development. This important funding helps Kennebec Valley Dental Coalition provide quality dental care to thousands.”
Hazlett made today’s announcement as part of USDA’s commemoration of National Rural Health Day, which is held annually on the third Thursday of November to focus on the specific health care issues facing rural communities. The Department is investing in 60 projects through the Community Facilities direct loan program. These investments will expand access to health care for approximately 2 million people in 34 states.
In Maine, two healthcare facilities have been selected to receive Community Facility Direct Loans:
Kennebec Valley Dental Coalition, located in Oakland, has been selected to receive $830,000. This Rural Development investment will be used to purchase a facility in Oakland and convert it to a dental clinic. This will allow the Kennebec Valley Dental Coalition to continue providing services to the area's 6,240 residents. The current building is being partially demolished. Additional funding includes $380,000 from private donations.
USDA Rural Development supports critical healthcare facilities like these as a part of its mission. In the past decade, the agency has invested over $40 million in Maine healthcare facilities for services including acute care, dental, telehealth, substance abuse, mental health, LifeFlight and more.
USDA is investing in health care projects in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Hazlett’s funding announcement complements the finalization of a partnership between USDA and the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) to identify issues causing financial strain on rural hospitals, which are an important part of the rural health care system. NRHA and the Department will work together to identify management and financial indicators that often precede a hospital’s closure. This proactive strategy is designed to help rural hospitals before they are in financial distress. Intervention steps may help the hospitals continue to operate and serve rural communities.
In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force.
To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit at www.rd.usda.gov.
USDA Rural Development has Area Offices located in Presque Isle, Bangor, Lewiston, and Scarborough, as well as a State Office, located in Bangor. Rural Development staff work diligently to deliver the agency's Housing, Business, and Community Programs, which are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, and farmers, and improve the quality of life in rural Maine. Further information on rural programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting USDA Rural Development's web site at http://www.rd.usda.gov/me.