Rural Development awards funding for rural hospitals
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announces investments in 33 states and one territory that will create jobs and improve the quality of life in rural communities across the nation.
"These projects not only provide needed infrastructure in rural communities, they contribute to the Obama administration's continued efforts to create quality jobs and improve the nation's economy," Vilsack said. "The projects announced today will help strengthen facilities and amenities in rural towns and small cities."
Community Facilities projects help fund Community Programs can help develop essential community facilities in rural areas and towns of up to 20,000 in population. Loans and guarantees are available to public entities such as municipalities, counties, and special-purpose districts, as well as to non-profit corporations and tribal governments.
"The Community Facilities projects assist rural communities in the areas of healthcare, public safety and community services," stated USDA Rural Development State Director Patty Clark. "The Great Plains Health Alliance is a great example of the regional collaboration that needs to be taking place in the healthcare industry, and I am excited that USDA Rural Development's Community Facilities Program was able to assist this project."
Great Plains Health Alliance Inc, in Phillipsburg, Kan., was selected to receive a $3 million direct loan and a $2.2 million loan guarantee to purchase health records equipment and software for rural hospitals. When completed, the project will offer clinical telemedicine services, including real-time virtual consultations, diagnostic examinations, digital diagnostic imaging, remote monitoring and other specialty services. The project is expected to create or save an estimated 41 jobs.
Roger John, president of the Great Plains Health Alliance stated that the project will assist 22 hospitals throughout the state of Kansas: Cheyenne County Hospital, Ellinwood District Hospital, Fredonia Regional Hospital, Grisell Memorial Hospital, Harlan County Health System, Herington Municipal Hospital, Kiowa County Memorial Hospital, Lane County Hospital, Logan County Hospital, Medicine Lodge Memorial Hospital, Minneola District Hospital, Osborne County Memorial Hospital, Ottawa County Health Center, Phillips County Hospital, Rawlins County Hospital, Republic County Hospital, Sabetha Community Hospital, Satanta District Hospital, Smith County Memorial Hospital, Stafford District Hospital, Trego County-Lemke Memorial Hospital and Wichita County Health Center.
"Great Plains Health Alliance had the idea to assist hospitals with transferring to electronic medical records long before the federal mandate came out," stated John. "With USDA Rural Development financing we will be able to assist several Kansas hospitals with transferring to electronic medical records by purchasing the needed equipment and software as a group, which is much cheaper than purchasing the equipment and software individually."
Another Kansas project was also awarded funding. The city of McFarland, Kan., was selected to receive a $47,400 loan to make improvements to a flood dam. Funds will be used to upgrade a dam within the city of McFarland to help reduce flooding conditions.
The $46.8 million is being funded through the USDA Rural Development Community Facilities Program. Funding of individual recipients is contingent upon meeting the terms of the loan or grant agreement. USDA Rural Development's Community Facilities Program helps finance essential community facilities for public use in rural areas. These facilities include child care centers, hospitals, medical clinics, assisted-living facilities, fire and rescue stations, police stations, community centers, public buildings and transportation. Through this program, USDA ensures that such facilities are available to all rural residents.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $155 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. For additional information regarding USDA Rural Development programs, visit the Agency's website, www.rurdev.usda.gov/KS, or call the agency's state office at 785-271-2700.