Biden-Harris Administration Invests $110 Million to Improve Health Care for Rural People in 43 States and Guam
LEBANON, N.H., Oct. 12, 2022 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Under Secretary Xochitl Torres Small today announced that USDA is awarding $110 million in grants to improve health care facilities in rural towns across the Nation. These grants will help 208 rural health care organizations expand critical services for nearly 5 million people in 43 states and Guam. In West Virginia, four organizations are receiving a total of $3,874,000.
“Access to modern and sustainable health care infrastructure is critical to the health, well-being and prosperity for the millions of people who live in rural and Tribal communities,” Torres Small said. “That’s why the Biden-Harris Administration remains committed to making sure that people who need it most, no matter where they live, have access to high-quality and reliable health care services like urgent care, primary care and dental care. Through the Emergency Rural Health Care Grants I am announcing today, USDA is being a strong partner to people in 43 states and Guam.”
“Rural Health Centers and Hospitals are vital to our communities and provide critical services to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and maintain the health and well-being of our people,” USDA Rural Development West Virginia State Director Ryan Thorn said, “The $3.8 million in Emergency Rural Health Care (ERHC) grants provided to four entities ensures the stability in service and the continuation of care for the people of Calhoun, Hardy and Roane counties, and beyond. To date, Rural Development has invested more than $5.8 million in eight projects through the ERHC program to strengthen healthcare throughout West Virginia.”
In West Virginia, four healthcare organizations are receiving a total of $3,874,000 through the Emergency Rural Health Care Grant Program:
- Hardy County Rural Development Association has received a grant in the amount of $1,000,000 to fund a 6,000 square foot building with adequate office and work space for the various duties of the health/medical services and patient care areas of Hardy County Rural Development Association. The new facility will have adequate parking at this site for employees and customers. The existing facility is leased, and Hardy County shares the building with another operation. Due to this, there isn't adequate space or parking and the upkeep on the building has been minimal. It was realized during COVID-19 that there was a need for a new building to serve the population of approximately 2,500 people.
- Hospital Development Corporation has received a grant in the amount of $1,000,000 to update the heating, ventilation and air condition (HVAC) system on its inpatient floor. The current system is from 1970 and does not have a negative air exchange which would allow the air to consistently be drawn out of an infected area and not re-circulated to the rest of the non-infected spaces. By updating this HVAC system to include the negative air exchange on the inpatient floor, the patients hospitalized with infectious diseases would be able to stay on the correct floor without potentially infecting other patients. The hospital is currently using the original air mechanical system from 1970 on the inpatient floor. COVID-19 highlighted the issue of air quality and how air exchange can be an effective infection control tool.
- Minnie Hamilton Health Care Center has received a grant in the amount of $1,000,000 to support phase 2 construction of the Minnie Hamilton Health Care Center. This phase will include construction of two floors, a new lab, a kitchen/cafeteria, a lobby, and a heliport in the parking lot. Minnie Hamilton Health Care Center is a 60-year-old hospital structure that has had multiple issues over the past few years. Improvements are planned for completion in four phases. Phase 2 will provide additional space for better functionality and necessary health services for nearly 8,000 people in the area.
- Roane County Family Health has received a grant in the amount of $874,000 to construct an entryway to Roane County Family Health (RCFH) center's building which will allow the center to separate incoming and outgoing traffic. This project will help better control COVID-19 and other highly contagious diseases. The center is also proposing making the entryway handicap accessible and adding elevators. Currently, RCFH has one entryway door which requires those going in and out to enter and exit through the same door, potentially meeting each other in this confined space. The front entryway is also not handicap accessible.
The investments USDA is announcing across the nation will help build, renovate and equip health care facilities like hospitals and clinics in rural areas. They also include more than $9 million for 12 rural health care organizations to help 187,000 people living in energy communities, which are areas with high concentrations of coal-dependent jobs. This funding will help communities that are vital to our country’s energy production as the nation transitions to a clean-energy economy.
The Biden-Harris Administration is making this Emergency Rural Health Care Grants Program funding available through its historic legislative package, the American Rescue Plan Act. The Act and this program are examples of the government’s ability to respond quickly to ensure every person and family has access to high-quality health care no matter their zip code.
The investments will be used for projects such as those to help rural hospitals and health care providers implement telehealth and nutrition assistance programs, increase staffing to administer COVID-19 vaccines and testing, build or renovate facilities, and purchase medical supplies. They will also help regional partnerships, public bodies, nonprofits and Tribes solve regional rural health care problems, which will help build a stronger, more sustainable rural health care system in response to the pandemic.
The investments USDA is announcing today will expand health care services in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming and Guam.
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.
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. 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. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov. If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page.
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, ensuring access to 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.
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