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USDA Officials Visit Marietta to Recognize Investment for Workforce Development in Rural Health Care

Heather Stacy
Release Date

MARIETTA, Ohio, July 27, 2023 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development State Director in Ohio Jonathan McCracken today, alongside local, state and hospital officials, visited the city of Marietta. A celebration was held to recognize a new workforce development program through Marietta Memorial Hospital, thanks to a partnership with USDA through the Emergency Rural Health Care Grant Program.

“Today’s event highlights a historic investment by both USDA and Marietta Memorial Hospital to address a workforce need in the health care field that will create good-paying jobs while ensuring high quality care for the region,” McCracken said. “Investing in rural health care providers to help them better address the needs of residents is exactly what investments made through USDA’s Emergency Rural Health Care Grant Program strives to do.”

Marietta Memorial Hospital (MMH) is addressing the needs of local health care providers by launching a workforce development program designed to reduce nursing shortages in the local health care system. Through this program, MMH will provide rural residents and higher education students with opportunities for high-demand and high-wage jobs in the health care field. MMH is part of the Memorial Health System, a nonprofit integrated health system providing health care services to rural and underserved populations in Athens, Monroe, Morgan, Noble, and Washington counties of Ohio (and Pleasants, Tyler,

and Wood counties of West Virginia). More than 200,000 Appalachian residents in rural Ohio and West Virginia, and approximately 300 students from Washington State Community College and West Virginia University will benefit from MMH’s workforce development program.

USDA’s $10 million Emergency Rural Health Care Grant, in partnership with the nearly $20 million provided by MMH will help address regional rural health care challenges to build a stronger, more sustainable rural health care system for the Ohio’s small towns and communities.

Marietta has partnered with USDA through the Emergency Rural Health Care Grant Program on another project to help the hospital recover from unexpected costs due to the coronavirus pandemic, as well as through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program to implement video interactive equipment at eight satellite locations in an effort to widen the scope of addressing the opioid pandemic.

Today’s event is in coordination with the recent nationwide announcement made by USDA Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small that USDA is expanding access to health care for more than 5 million people living in 39 states and Puerto Rico.  

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, which helps residents in rural areas build or improve essential community infrastructure and purchase or replace equipment needed for essential community services.

More than 100 types of projects are eligible for Community Facilities funding. Eligible applicants include municipalities, public bodies, nonprofit organizations and federally recognized Native American tribes. Projects must be in rural areas with a population of 20,000 or less.

To learn more about Community Facilities Program funding opportunities, contact your local USDA Rural Development office. Also see the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program Guidance Book for Applicants (PDF, 669 KB) for a detailed overview of the application process.

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.

Contact USDA Rural Development

Information on programs available through USDA Rural Development is available by visiting www.rd.usda.gov/oh or by following @Ohio_RD on Twitter.