Rural Residents in 34 States will Benefit
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.
The Hot Springs County Memorial Hospital located in Thermopolis, Wyoming, will be receiving a $21.3 million loan to finance an acute-care hospital expansion and renovation. The facility serves the 4,812 residents of Hot Springs County and the surrounding areas. The original hospital was constructed in 1959, with only two notable renovations in 60 years. The project will include an expansion of the hospital, demolition of the patient wing, and extensive renovation of the existing facility including the clinic, pharmacy, imaging, and sleep lab. The hospital has been a cornerstone of the Hot Springs County community since its inception. It is the second largest employer in the county, with 143 employees. Additional funding includes a $5,336,000 USDA Community Facilities loan guarantee and a $250,000 applicant contribution.
Westward Heights, the only nursing home facility in Lander, Wyoming, to serve the 7,487 residents of the community, is receiving a $4.2 million loan to rehabilitate the structure. To remain economically viable, the project needs to modernize the 35,000 square feet facility. Upgrades will include modifications to meet ADA requirements, converting two semi-private rooms with shared bathrooms to private rooms, and adding 10 beds. The project will help keep elderly people close to their families and communities. Additional funding includes a $1,428,000 Community Facilities loan guarantee.
The Blackfeet Tribe is receiving an $8 million loan to help build a 39-bed, long-term-care facility on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in northwestern Montana. This project is Phase I of a planned 47-bed facility. Phase II will be constructed at a future date. The new, 27,079-square-foot facility will replace a smaller one that is 47 years old. It will provide space for residents who are now in facilities that are more than 60 miles from the community. This project will benefit the approximately 7,000 members of the Blackfeet Nation who live on or near the Reservation.
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 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.