DEMOPOLIS, Ala., November 1, 2022 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Alabama State Director Nivory Gordon today announced USDA is investing more than $7.3 million in grants to fund projects 11 separate projects that will improve health care facilities across Alabama, benefitting nearly 200,000 rural residents in 10 Alabama counties.
"For those who are living in rural Alabama, access to healthcare is a very important issue," Gordon said. "For some families, being able to access modern healthcare facilities can factor in the family's decision to locate to or stay in a rural community. In order to make sure that rural Alabamians have equal access to healthcare as those who live in our urban centers, USDA is working to help support rural healthcare systems. The investments announced here today will help to ensure these healthcare providers can continue to serve those communities that they proudly call home."
The investments USDA is announcing will help build, renovate and equip health care facilities like hospitals and clinics in rural areas across Alabama. The Biden-Harris Administration is making this Emergency Rural Health Care Grants Program funding available 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.
The investments will be used for projects such as those to 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 will also help regional partnerships, public bodies, nonprofits and Tribes solve regional rural health care problems, which will help build a stronger, more sustainable rural health care system in response to the pandemic. The projects being announced today in Alabama are:
- In Pike County, the Troy Hospital Healthcare Authority will use a $120,100 grant to install an energy-efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. This system will be an energy cost-savings for the hospital, and also help reduce exposure to COVID-19 and other airborne contagious illnesses. This investment will benefit 32,889 rural residents in Pike County and surrounding areas.
- In Franklin County, the Russellville Hospital will use a $1,000,000 grant to to continue the vital primary care needed in rural Russellville, Alabama. This project will provide the hospital with needed renovations that will help to protect against future pandemics. In addition, the project will help purchase supplies that were depleted during the COVID-19 pandemic. This investment will benefit 9,830 rural residents in Franklin County and surrounding areas.
- In Tallapoosa County, the Russell Hospital Corporation will use a $426,600 grant to reimburse lost healthcare related revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the response, the hospital expended funds to establish testing sites, vaccine clinics, and purchase personal protective equipment. This investment will benefit 66,737 rural residents in Tallapoosa County and surrounding areas.
- In Bullock County, the Bullock County Development Authority will use a $299,600 grant to purchase a vehicle to be used as a mobile health care clinic, and to store supplies and equipment. This vehicle will provide outreach to the community and offer services such as COVID-19 vaccines, COVID-19 testing, primary care services, and management of chronic health problems. This investment will benefit 5,612 rural residents in Bullock County and surrounding areas.
- In Butler County, the Healthcare Authority of the City of Greenville will use a $1,000,000 grant to to reimburse lost health care related revenue during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the hospital's response to the pandemic, it expended funds to set up testing sites, vaccine clinics, and purchased personal protective equipment. This investment will benefit 8,135 rural residents of Butler County and surrounding areas.
- In Geneva County, the Geneva County Health Care Authority will use a $999,300 grant to offset expenses which were incurred by the hospital due to its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and to prepare for a future pandemic-level event. As part of the response to the pandemic, the hospital expended funds to set up testing sites, vaccine clinics, and to purchase personal protective equipment. This project will also help increase the hospital's medical surge capabilities and telehealth capacity. This investment will benefit 10,510 rural residents of Geneva County and surrounding areas.
- In Marengo County, the Tombigbee Healthcare Authority will use a $910,000 grant to replace the Whitfield Regional Hospital's boiler system, which is necessary for the continued operation of the hospital. The previous boiler system suffered a mechanical failure, requiring the hospital to rent a replacement at great expense. This investment will allow the hospital to own the boiler and save money. This investment will benefit 21,027 rural residents of Marengo County and surrounding areas
- In Sumter County, the City of York Healthcare Authority DBA Hill Hospital of York will use a $114,000 grant to increase capacity for COVID-19 and other contagious illness vaccine distribution by purchasing a vehicle to transport clinical staff and a utility truck to transport equipment to a vaccination site. This investment will also be used to provide medical supplies such as personal protective equipment to increase the Hill Hospital's medical surge capacity, and to purchase videoconferencing equipment to increase the telehealth capabilities of the hospital. This investment will benefit 13,763 rural residents of Sumter County.
- In Marion County, Marion Medical Center, Inc. will use a $437,500 grant to provide a specialized area within the hospital for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. This area will feature a specialized heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, and other equipment. This specialized unit will allow for centralized and isolated treatment of patients with COVID-19 and other contagious diseases. This investment will benefit 6,885 rural residents of Marion County.
- Also in Marion County, the Healthcare Authority of Winfield, AL will use a $1,000,000 grant to renovate 10 rooms at the Northwest Regional Medical Center which is part of The Healthcare Authority of Winfield. These renovated rooms will be used to house long-term COVID-19 treatment patients, a rehabilitation unit, and other associated care. This specialized unit will allow for patients to be centralized and isolated for treatment of COVID-19 and other contagious diseases. This investment will benefit 10,978 rural residents of Marion County.
- In Washington County, the Washington County Health Care Authority will use a grant of $1,000,000 to upgrade the facility's medical surge effectiveness and capacity in the event of a medical emergency. This project will provide equipment to establish a triage area in the hospital's multipurpose building, equipment to upgrade the hospital's camera security system including specialized COVID-19 features, laboratory, rehabilitation, and medical surgical equipment to provide care for patients, and for facility modifications such as a new helipad, computerized topography scanner room, and upgraded heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. This project will benefit 1,228 rural residents of Washington County.
In other areas of the country, USDA is also expanding health care services in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming and Guam.
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 our 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, ensuring access to 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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