Bozeman, Mont., July 25, 2023 – U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development in Montana State Director Kathleen Williams announced today a total of $20 million in recent investments in 11 public organizations, non-profits, and rural health care facilities in Montana through the Emergency Rural Health Care (ERHC) grant program over the last two years. This funding was designed to ease economic strain brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and generate long-term health care sustainability in rural and Tribal communities.
“These funds provided direct relief to several critical care sites across Montana, enabling them to address challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and more,” said Williams. “Every Montanan deserves quality health care no matter where they live, and this funding not only provided immediate relief, but also helped rural health care facilities’ progress toward long-term sustainability.”
USDA awarded $129 million nationwide in Emergency Rural Health Care grants from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 to improve health care facilities in rural and Tribal communities. These grants generated access to COVID-19 testing and vaccines, sustained rural health care services, and provided food assistance through food banks and food distribution facilities.
Available from early 2021 through 2022, this funding was a lifeline to rural Montanans and was distributed to eligible applicants through two available tracks:
- Track One: Recovery grants provided immediate relief to address economic conditions arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Track Two: Impact grants to advance ideas and solutions focused on solving regional rural health care issues and advancing long-term sustainability of rural health.
Montana recipients included:
Bear Paw Development Corporation in Havre, Montana, received a $10,000,000 grant (Track 2) for a wellness center on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation. This facility will increase access to health care services, help recruit and retain providers and professionals, integrate traditional, cultural beliefs and resources, and offer overall healing and wellness services to members of the community.
Big Horn Hospital Association in Hardin, Montana, received a $596,812 grant (Track 1) to implement a new electronic health record (EHR) and associated software to interface with Billings Clinic facilities. This seamless transition of records and information will result in integrated record keeping and promote patient portal use for rural populations.
Big Horn Valley Health Center in Hardin, Montana, received two grants (Tracks 1 and 2) totaling $6,345,583 to renovate an historic building in Miles City, Montana, that will offer health care resources to rural residents. The building will include a pharmacy, dental clinic, public meeting space, clinical training program, Custer County Public Health Department integration, and space for support and administrative personnel.
Chippewa Cree Tribe in Box Elder, Montana, received a $164,062 grant (Track 1) to develop mobile delivery capability for the Rocky Boy Reservation food bank which serves more than 3,300 Hill County residents eligible for assistance.
Community Hospital of Anaconda in Anaconda, Montana, received a $116,300 grant (Track 1) to purchase IT infrastructure that will enhance telehealth services for this critical access hospital in Deer Lodge County, enabling providers to access patients and provide care in medically underserved rural areas.
Granite County Hospital in Philipsburg, Montana, received a $79,000 grant (Track 1) to purchase hospital equipment that will increase its capacity to distribute vaccines and provide additional health care services to residents in remote, rural areas of the county.
Marias Health Care Services, Inc., in Shelby, Montana, received a $1,000,000 grant (Track 1) to augment funding that renovated a vacant big-box store and consolidated multiple health care services under one roof, resulting in enhanced delivery of care to more than 5,800 patients in a four-county area in north central Montana.
Powder River County in Broadus, Montana, received a $122,500 grant (Track 1) to purchase two ambulances and related first responder equipment for the county. The ambulances and equipment will improve the county’s ability to deliver emergency services to more than 2,000 rural residents.
Prairie County Hospital District in Terry, Montana, received two grants (Track 1) totaling $621,965 to increase capacity to deliver patient care services and improve its emergency department. This county-owned critical access hospital is a certified trauma receiving facility that fills a critical need for residents in this rural community.
Valley View Home in Glasgow, Montana, received a $232,728 grant (Track 1) to ensure it was able to maintain 30-day stock of durable medical items and other critical supplies such as personal protective equipment (PPE) during the Covid-19 pandemic. Because of its remote location, supply chain issues challenged this 96-bed skilled nursing facility that provides care for nearly 100 senior residents from multiple northeastern Montana counties.
Wheatland Memorial Health Care in Harlowton, Montana, received a $1,000,000 grant as part of multiple USDA funding sources to build a new, $20 million modernized 38,000 square foot critical access hospital and integrated rural health clinic to meet the needs of more than 2,600 residents. The new facility will feature upgraded electrical and ventilation systems, new furniture and fixtures, and state-of-the-art medical equipment so it can continue delivering quality, accessible health care to residents of this rural Montana community.
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 by supporting improvements in infrastructure, business development, housing, and community facilities in rural and Tribal areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.
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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.
USDA Rural Development has six offices in Montana – Billings, Bozeman, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell, and Missoula. To learn more about investment resources for rural areas in Montana, call (406) 585-2587 or visit www.rd.usda.gov/mt.