USDA invests nearly $2 million to improve health care across rural Minnesota

Published 3:24 pm Wednesday, October 19, 2022

U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer on Tuesday announced that USDA is awarding $2 million in grants to improve health care facilities in rural towns across Minnesota, including one in Albert Lea. 

“Access to modern and sustainable health care infrastructure is essential to the health, well-being and prosperity for the people who live in rural Minnesota,” Landkamer said. “Today, we are committed to making sure that residents 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, Minnesota Rural Development is being a strong partner to communities in rural Minnesota.”

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 build a stronger, more sustainable rural health care system in response to the pandemic.

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For example:

  • Red Lake Falls Volunteer Ambulance Association received $62,000 to purchase a new ambulance that will replace an older unreliable ambulance. These funds will allow the ambulance association provides safe and reliable care to the community’s 1,007 residents.
  • Luther Haven has received a $949,000 Rural Development investment to assist the nursing facility in recovering revenue lost from the COVID-19 pandemic. Luther Haven is a facility that aids the cities of Montevideo, Clarkfield, Milan, Dawson, Granite Falls, Clara City, Maynard and Boyd.
  • The city of Graceville will receive $104,000 to purchase a new ambulance. The new vehicle will provide faster response times and more efficient emergency services for the city’s nearly 600 residents.
  • St. John’s Lutheran Community in Albert Lea received $364,700 to recover lost revenue for the unexpected cost of supplies and staffing expenses resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Kittson Memorial Hospital will use a $51,700 grant to renovate the clinic exam room and nurse’s station. Funds also will be used to build an isolation room for patients with infectious illnesses or those who are susceptible to infections.
  • The Ridgeview Sibley Medical Center received a $98,400 grant to purchase personal protection supplies and staffing costs incurred for COVID testing and administration at this Medical Center in Arlington, Minnesota.
  • The Murray County Medical Center awarded $196,300 to install two automated medication dispensing cabinets. These cabinets will improve the care and safety of patients by providing nursing and other patient care staff with quick, efficient, and safe access to medications.

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.

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