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USDA Rural Development Announces $1.2 Million to Improve Health Care for Rural Missouri

Antonia Varner
Release Date

Funding Will Help Residents in Underserved Communities in Rural Missouri 

COLUMBIA, MO., October 12, 2022 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Missouri State Director Kyle Wilkens today announced that the Department is awarding over $1.2 million in Emergency Rural Health Care Grants (ERHCG) to assist residents in underserved communities in Rural Missouri.  “Access to healthy food and health care are critical to the health and well being of our citizens” Wilkens said, “USDA Rural Development is here to build up rural communities.”

As part of today’s announcement:

  • Bootheel Cultural & Performing Arts Center is receiving a $54,600 grant under the nutrition assistance portion of ERHCG to purchase a walk-in-cooler, forklift, enclosed trailer, and a battery powered pallet lift for the Bootheel Cultural and Performing Arts Center. These items will assist the entity with the increased need for their food bank operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The walk-in-cooler will help them store large quantities of perishable food items for distribution to their communities.  Additionally, the forklift, battery powered pallet lift, and enclosed trailer will be extremely beneficial in loading, unloading, and transporting pallets of food items out into their local service area. This region of the state battles high unemployment rates is considered a food desert and is in a Persistent Poverty County. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated an already critical situation. Being able to expand their ability to store large quantities of both dry goods and cold food items is truly a matter of food on the table for many families in this area of southeast Missouri.
  • Carter County Health Center is receiving a $231,477 grant to assist Carter County Health Center with funds to hire a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) dedicated to testing and vaccination, which will double the health centers vaccination capacity. The nurse will also travel throughout the county providing testing and vaccinations at community centers, schools, senior centers, and churches ensuring the opportunity is available to every citizen in as many rural locations as possible. This investment will also be used to purchase additional medical supplies, vaccines, and tests to ensure they have sufficient resources now and in the future. The center will also be purchasing an ultra-cold storage unit for special vaccines that must be stored at very low temperatures. Additional measures to ensure all citizens of Carter County can receive these vital services, the health center will be updating the internet services and website, allowing them to increase outreach, support upgrades to the county's underlying health care information system, enabling county-wide communications going forward.
  • Ozarks Medical Center is receiving a $1,000,000 grant to assist in constructing a 10,000 square foot clinic in Mountain View, Missouri. Currently, they provide COVID-19 testing and vaccinations at its primary location in West Plains, Missouri. This is at least a 30-minute drive for the rural community. With limited to no public transportation, the rural community throughout the service area is unable to receive both testing and vaccinations. This proposed project is critical in assuring the rural community has access to this much needed service.

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.

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, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, 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.

Contact USDA Rural Development

Information on programs available through USDA Rural Development is available by visiting www.rd.usda.gov/mo, by calling (573) 876-0976, or by emailing RDMissouri@usda.gov.

USDA Rural Development has 25 offices across the state to serve the 2.2 million residents living in rural Missouri. Office locations include a state office in Columbia, along with local offices in Butler, Charleston, Chillicothe, Clinton, Dexter, Eldon, Farmington, Higginsville, Houston, Kennett, Kirksville, Maryville, Mexico, Moberly, Neosho, New London, Poplar Bluff, Richmond, Rolla, Sedalia, Springfield, St. Joseph, Troy, and West Plains.

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