BURLINGTON, Vt., Sept. 21 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Wednesday applauded the announcement by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development that nearly $3 million combined across three grants has been approved for Vermont health care organizations in Wells River, Springfield, and Brattleboro. These Emergency Rural Health Care Grants (ERHC), a part of the American Rescue Plan’s emergency relief funding that Sanders helped to pass in 2021, will expand critical health care services for thousands of Vermonters in rural communities.
“There should be no debate that Vermonters living in rural areas should be able to get quality health care close to home,” said Sanders. “And yet, health care facilities have struggled for years to keep the doors open – a problem that was only made worse by the pandemic. I am proud to see the American Rescue Plan, one of the most significant pieces of legislation to benefit working people in the modern history of this country, continue to provide vital relief for Vermonters – from addressing the health care workforce crisis to maintaining essential supplies and equipment, and now to strengthening care services in Springfield, Brattleboro, and Wells River. This funding will go a long way so these critical health care facilities can continue their important work in keeping Vermonters healthy and safe.”
Through the American Rescue Plan, the USDA is making ERHC grants available to provide immediate relief, expand services, and strengthen nutrition assistance for rural health care facilities, tribes, and communities. In Vermont, these three recent grant awardees include:
- $1 million for the Springfield Hospital to relieve economic hardship arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, update facilities and services, and ensure that residents can continue to access quality health care close to home. The hospital will use a portion of the funding to invest in a more efficient HVAC system. Updating the air-handling system will modernize the building by improving energy efficiency and lowering operational expenses.
- $637,600 for the Brattleboro Memorial Hospital to modernize equipment and make improvements that meet the increasing demands of telemedicine, including an upgraded phone system, smart beds, lifts, portable beds and stretchers, and cutting-edge diagnostic and treatment equipment.
- $1 million for Little Rivers Healthcare in Wells River to increase patient access to needed services, including providing for additional exam rooms, health offices, care team support spaces, bathrooms, a waiting room, work reception area, and fire safety compliance work.
Under the American Rescue Plan, Vermont received a historic amount of federal relief and investment to help keep Vermonters safe and healthy, including more than $40 million for community health centers across the state and $27 million for vaccine distribution.