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USDA Invests $2.7 Million to Improve Health Care for People Living in Rural Illinois

Nikki Gillespie
Release Date

Investments to Help Nearly 88,000 People in Socially Vulnerable Communities

CHAMPAIGN, Ill., Aug. 11, 2022 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Illinois State Director Betsy Dirksen Londrigan today announced that USDA is awarding $2.7 million in grants to improve health care facilities in rural Illinois towns servicing nearly 88,000 residents.

“Under the leadership of President Biden, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack, and Under Secretary for Rural Development Xochitl Torres Small, USDA is committed to making sure that everyone has access to high-quality and reliable health care services like urgent care, primary care, and dental care,” Dirksen Londrigan said. “Emergency Rural Health Care Grants provide opportunities for rural health care facilities, in even the most remote areas, to provide the same services as their urban counterparts and address the ongoing needs of rural patients caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Biden-Harris Administration made these funds available in the Emergency Rural Health Care Grants Programs 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.

USDA Rural Development promotes a healthy community and environment through the Emergency Rural Health Care Grants to make sure people, kids and families have access to the health care they need.

The investments will 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 also will help regional partnerships, public bodies, and nonprofits solve regional rural health care problems and build a stronger, more sustainable rural health care system in response to the pandemic. For example:

  • Marshall Browning Hospital Association will use a $1 million grant to construct a nearly 8,000 square feet addition to the existing physical therapy facility. The added facility will allow for multiple patients to receive treatment while practicing social distancing. The additional square footage will also provide space for private treatment rooms, a consultation room, restrooms, and office area for staff.
  • Memorial Hospital Association located in Hancock County will use a $516,000 grant to place additional exhaust units in two patient exam rooms to improve isolation capacity and reduce the spread of COVID-19 infection into clean air of neighboring rooms and hallways. Funding will also help purchase medical supplies and equipment needed to adequately provide safe vaccination and treatment of the COVID-19 infection.
  • Pinckneyville Community Hospital District will use a $1 million grant to streamline the electronic health record system and provide enhanced tracking and reporting capabilities of patient visits. The new system will help to improve patient safety and reduce risks of human error associated with manual workflow.
  • Hamilton County Ambulance Service will use a $210,200 grant to purchase a new vehicle with state-of-the-art equipment including cardiac monitors, power load system, power cot, and stair chair. The new vehicle will strengthen response times and equipment will allow for virtual transmissions to the local emergency room. These services are vital to ensuring that the 8,457 residents of Hamilton County have access to health care that can address current and future needs.

Today’s investments are part of a larger investment recently announced by USDA Rural Development Under Secretary Xochitl Torres Small that the Department is awarding $74 million in grants to improve health care facilities in rural towns across the Nation. These grants will help 143 rural health care organizations expand critical services for 3 million people in 37 states, Guam and Puerto Rico. The investments include $32 million for 67 rural health care organizations to help more than 1 million people living in socially vulnerable communities.

USDA will announce additional awardees for Emergency Rural Health Care Grants in the coming weeks and months.

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

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/il. If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates in Illinois, visit the GovDelivery subscriber page.