Two local hospitals have received more than $1 million in emergency rural health care grants from the US Department of Agriculture.
The USDA released the program’s first awards, totaling $43 million and benefiting 2.2 million people, in April. The program was created under the American Rescue Plan Act to expand access for rural hospitals and providers to COVID-19 vaccines, tests and supplies, as well as help rural healthcare providers remain financially solvent. long-term.
Locally, Pocahontas and Belmond Community Hospitals received the grant.
The City of Pocahontas received $344,200 for the Pocahontas Community Hospital.
The grant money will be used to help cover costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, PCH chief executive James Roetman said. This includes increasing surge capacity and adding negative pressure rooms to be able to care for patients who need to be isolated, as was needed during the peaks of the pandemic.
“Those are some of the things that we recognized over the last 18 months to two years that we needed to improve here,” Roetman said. “I think this will really put us in a better position to meet patient needs in the future.”
Belmond Community Hospital received $984,600. According to the USDA release, the grant will be used to increase vaccine distribution capacity by providing cold storage, transportation and vehicle support. It will also purchase medical supplies, laboratory equipment and personal protective equipment to increase medical response capacity. The hospital’s telehealth capabilities will also be increased through the purchase of equipment and software.
A phone call to the Iowa Specialty Hospital, which operates Belmond Community Hospital, was not returned.
“USDA used a comprehensive approach to create the Emergency Rural Health Care Grant Program to address a variety of immediate health care needs and services in rural communities,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The American Rescue Plan Act and this program are examples of the government’s ability to respond quickly to ensure that every person and family has access to high-quality health care, regardless of zip code.”