USDA Invests $28.4 Million to Improve Health Care for More than 9500 Rural Vermonters

Copley’s President and CEO Joseph Woodin pictured with (l to r) Jenny Samuelson, VT Agency of Human Services; Michael Del Trecco, President and CEO, Vermont Association of Hospitals and Healthcare Systems; U.S. Senator Peter Welch;  Sarah Waring, USDA Rural Development VT State Director; Shawn Tester, President and CEO Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital and USDA Rural Development USEC Xochitl Torres Small.

Friday – March 24 – Today, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Rural Development (RD) Xochitl Torres Small announced $28.4 million in funding to improve healthcare facilities in St. Johnsbury and Waterbury through Community Facilities Direct Loans and the Emergency Rural Healthcare Grant program (ERHG). The investments will create six new healthcare jobs, save more than 400 and benefit more than 9500 rural residents.

Vermont Senator Peter Welch and RD State Director Sarah Waring joined Torres Small at Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital (NVRH) in St. Johnsbury to celebrate the projects, where they will host several healthcare leaders from state agencies and nonprofit organizations at a roundtable discussion about industry challenges and solutions within the Green Mountain State.

ERHGs of $1 million were awarded to NVRH in St. Johnsbury and Copley Hospital based in Morrisville. In addition to the grant funding, both institutions received significant investments through USDA Community Facilities Direct Loans, with NVRH benefitting from a $16.5 million investment through the program, and Copley, $9.9 million.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to making sure rural people have access to critical care close to home, no matter where they live,” said Torres Small. “Thanks to the leadership of Senator Peter Welch, these projects will help thousands of people in rural Vermont access the modern, cutting-edge hospital and health care they deserve.”

Sarah Waring, State Director of Rural Development in Vermont and New Hampshire, was pleased to join the Under Secretary and Senator in making the announcement: “These resilient, resourceful healthcare institutions are more than deserving of this crucial funding,” she said. “With the many challenges that doctors, nurses and staff have navigated over the last few years, it’s an honor for us to help make their lives and work just a little easier with these investments. This modernization of space and services embodies the Biden-Harris Administration’s mission to improve quality of life in rural America, resulting in better healthcare access, more care options and improved health maintenance for rural Vermonters.”

At NVRH, multiple departments will expand through a $1 million ERHG and $16.5 million through a Community Facilities Direct Loan. Funds will be used to increase available beds and upgrade the laboratory, pharmacy and behavioral health and emergency departments to be more efficient, safe and functionally modern. This translates to shorter wait times for emergency treatment, more pharmacy offerings, and improved safe storage, privacy and dignity for those waiting in the behavioral health holding unit to transfer to another facility.  

Morrisville-based Copley Hospital will build an orthopedic medical office in Waterbury, Vt. through a $1 million ERHG and $9.9 million Community Facilities Direct Loan. The investment will help the Hospital purchase property, build the facility and purchase modern medical imaging equipment and related costs. The 9,962 square foot will help meet the growing community need for orthopedic, rehabilitation, and podiatry services.

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. In August 2021, USDA made the Emergency Rural Health Care Grants available through the American Rescue Plan 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. 

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