USDA Rural Development: USDA invests $13 million on National Rural Healthcare Day to improve healthcare for rural Wisconsin residents

Stevens Point, Wisconsin, November 17, 2022 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) State Director of Rural Development for Wisconsin, Julie Lassa, announced today that the USDA is allocating $13 million in grants to improve health care facilities in rural Wisconsin towns. These grants will help 13 rural healthcare organizations expand essential services for rural Wisconsin residents.

“Today we celebrate National Rural Health Care Day as a reminder that a strong community is rooted in its people,” said Lassa. “Having sustainable and accessible health care infrastructure in rural areas is critical to the health and well-being of people living in small town Wisconsin. Under the leadership of President Biden and Vice President Harris, the USDA promotes healthy communities through grants to ensure everyone has access to the health care they need. [Audio: Mp3, :24 Seconds, 584KB]

The Rural Emergency Health Care Grants announced today will help rural hospitals and healthcare providers implement telehealth and nutritional assistance programs, increase staff to administer COVID-19 vaccines and tests, build or renovate facilities and purchase medical supplies. Grants can also help regional partnerships, public agencies, nonprofits, and tribes address regional rural health care issues and build a stronger, more sustainable rural health care system in response to the pandemic. For instance:

  • HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital (Chippewa Falls) will use a $9.47 million grant to increase patient care capacity, long-term sustainability, and address the adverse effects of COVID-19 on the treatment and recovery of opioid use disorder /substances/alcohol. This project will help overcome the limitations of drug addiction response in rural communities severely affected by the pandemic by establishing telemedicine centers, the use of the Dynamicare app for peer support and monitoring as well as the construction accessible recovery and care spaces in the event of a pandemic. The facilities and proposed service area are extensive and focus on the following Wisconsin counties: Barron, Chippewa, Eau Claire, Florence, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto, Rusk, Shawano and Washburn.
  • Augusta Area Home Inc. in Eau Claire County will use a grant of $346,151 to recover lost revenue in 2020 as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds will allow the facility to continue to operate efficiently while meeting expenses associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Baldwin Care Center Inc. in St. Croix County will use a grant of $382,769 to recover lost revenue in 2020 as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The facility will attempt to regain pre-pandemic census levels and aims to attract/retain highly qualified staff.
  • Maison Bethanie Inc. in Waupaca County will use a $458,278 grant to recover lost 2020 revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds will be used to replenish funds lost due to increased expenses, including pandemic-related equipment and personnel costs, as well as declining admissions and capacity limits.
  • Community Action Council of Central Wisconsin Inc. in Adams County will use a $126,084 grant to expand the existing Adams County Food Pantry space located in Friendship. This project will include internal renovations to increase floor space and storage capacity from 850 to 2,100 square feet to meet the growing needs of the region due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Glenhaven Inc. in St. Croix County will use a grant of $720,832 to recover lost revenue since March 2020. The funds will allow the facility to continue to operate effectively while dealing with high pandemic-related expenses. The facility will attempt to regain pre-pandemic census levels and aims to attract/retain highly qualified staff.
  • Good Shepherd Services LTD in Outagamie County will use a $146,515 grant to recover lost revenue in 2020 as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The property had to limit occupancy due to social distancing restrictions and incurred additional expenses due to the purchase of personal protective equipment and higher personnel costs. The funds will allow the facility to continue to operate effectively while meeting the continually increased expenses associated with the pandemic.
  • Grant Regional Health Center Inc. in Grant County will use a grant of $533,750 to build a satellite health facility in Fennimore, Wisconsin. The facility will be located 12 miles from the main campus to better serve the local population, which will reduce travel times for residents in remote areas. The clinic will provide patients with high quality health care, including primary services as well as rehabilitation, x-ray and laboratory treatment. The facility will also allow employers in this community to help retain their workforce, including the ability for workers to receive health care in town rather than driving out of town, potentially running out of working time or moving out of the community.
  • House Park View Inc. in St. Croix County will use a $27,131 grant to recoup lost revenue in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The majority of lost revenue funds will be used to replenish lost funds due to increased expenses, including equipment and payroll costs, as well as decreased admissions and overall decline in census revenue related to the pandemic.
  • Schmitt Woodland Hills Inc. in Richland County will use a grant of $543,689 to recover revenue lost in 2021 due to a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, limiting settlement enumeration due to social distancing, restrictions and additional expenses incurred due to personal protective equipment and increased personnel costs. The funds will allow the facility to continue to operate effectively while dealing with rising pandemic-related expenses.
  • Sector Shawano Matthew 25 Inc. in Shawano County will use a $69,300 grant to complete renovations to the Shawano Area Matthew 25 Inc. (SAM25) Community Clinic. This project will provide assistance with the rising cost of supplies, equipment, salaries and operating expenses. These funds are needed to keep this low-cost/free health clinic operational and to expand medical resources such as COVID-19 treatments, tests, and laboratory and pharmacy services.
  • Brick Ministries, Inc. in Ashland County will use a $154,500 grant to renovate the current food distribution and storage facility and lobby. The renovation includes a reconfiguration of the floor plan for better circulation, bringing the building up to code to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements.
  • Waushara County Food Pantry, Inc. will use a $198,000 grant to expand the pantry and improve the facility to meet increased demand for products and services caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Funds from this project will be used to cover increased costs and needs for additional refrigeration, increased food supply and new equipment, as well as staff and operating expenses.

Several beneficiaries will impact the surrounding communities and will also benefit the communities located in recently established Community networks of the Rural Partners Network (RPN):

  • Northwest Wisconsin Community Network: August Area Home, Inc. and HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital
  • Greater Menominee Community Network: HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital
  • Northern Wisconsin Community Network: The Brick Ministries, Inc.
  • Adams County Visionary Community Network: Central Wisconsin Community Action Council Inc.

Background: Rural Emergency Health Care Subsidies

Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act in March 2021 to provide immediate economic relief to those affected by the pandemic. A few months after the law was passed, the USDA responded quickly by making this funding available to ensure the long-term availability of rural health care services.

In August 2021, the USDA made the Rural Emergency 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 nutritional assistance.

The aid helps provide immediate relief to support rural hospitals, healthcare clinics and local communities. The USDA administers the funds through Rural Development’s Community Facilities Program.

Under the Biden-Harris administration, Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunity, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This aid supports the improvement of infrastructure; Business development; lodging; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed Internet access in rural, tribal and very poor areas. For more information, visit https://www.rd.usda.gov/wi

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