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 and services in rural communities nationwide.
“Creating strong and healthy communities is foundational to increasing prosperity in rural America,” Hazlett said. “Under the leadership of Secretary Sonny Perdue, USDA is committed to partnering with rural leaders to improve quality of life and economic development through modern and accessible health care.”
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.
“From southwest Michigan to the Sunrise Coast, these projects demonstrate how we are working hard to increase rural access to health care and improve its quality,” said USDA Rural Development State Director for Michigan Jason Allen.
The Cass County Community Mental Health Authority, dba Woodlands Behavioral Healthcare Network, is receiving a $4,066,000 loan to purchase and renovate the Midwest Energy Cooperative's headquarters facility in Cassopolis. Woodlands is currently operating out of two leased locations. The proposed facility will be 17,000 square feet to accommodate intake, outpatient and administrative services. An additional 14,740 square feet of warehouse space will be repurposed to accommodate case management and restorative services for people with developmentally disabilities. Relocating into one building will enhance service delivery, improve staff retention, create a more hospitable area for clients, and will increase efficiency. The project will serve approximately 52,000 residents.
Alcona Citizens for Health Care, Inc. will use a $3,703,000 loan to construct a health center in Oscoda. The 18,800-square-foot facility will house medical, behavioral health, care management, outreach and dental services. Alcona will lease a small portion of the facility to a local hospital for X-ray services. Alcona currently operates out of an older Air Force base building that is deteriorating. The new facility will be located in downtown Oscoda, providing easier patient access. Alcona has several health and dental clinics and pharmacies in eight counties in rural Michigan. This project will assist nearly 7,000 residents.
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 impact rural hospital operations. This technical assistance will help rural hospitals continue to operate and provide critical health care services to 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 facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.