Rural Health Group will receive $661,324 in funding from the United States Department of Health and Human Services through the Health Resources and Services Administration.
United States Congressman G.K. Butterfield made the announcement in a press release Thursday night.
In all, nearly $13 million will be awarded to 39 HRSA-funded health centers in North Carolina. Almost $3.4 million is being awarded to centers in Butterfield’s First Congressional District, he said.
The statement said HRSA-funded health centers will use this funding to expand the range of testing and testing-related activities to best address the needs of their local communities, including the purchase of personal protective equipment; training for staff, outreach, procurement and administration of tests; laboratory services; notifying identified contacts of infected health center patients of their exposure to COVID-19; and the expansion of walk-up or drive-up testing capabilities.
Last month, United States Senator Thom Tillis announced RHG would receive $1.3 million in CARES Act funds.
“Our testing has quadrupled due to these funds,” said RHG CEO Yvonne Gee this morning. “We’re also now receiving a steady supply of personal protective equipment which is necessary with the expanded testing.”
She said Federally Qualified Health Centers could not operate and remain open to the public “without the support of our congressmen and representatives passing laws providing immediate access to funding for community health centers like Rural Health Group.”
Gee said, “We have worked diligently to implement procedures and processes to continue providing health care access to patients during this COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, we are able to offer telemedicine and telephonic visits in order to meet the immediate and urgent needs of all patients. Without this additional funding, the current level of care would not be possible and we would have layoffs and clinic closures.”
Butterfield said in the news release, “As North Carolinians and communities nationwide face this unprecedented health and economic crisis, it is imperative that we prioritize people’s health and safety. A prosperous economy starts with a healthy community. For our communities to be healthy, COVID-19 testing must be available to anyone who needs it and right now far too many Americans are in desperate need of increased access to COVID-19 testing.
“Community health centers are our frontline defense amid this pandemic and are positioned to reach people where they are within the community. I am glad to see they will now receive much needed funding to support the heroic work they do every day in the First Congressional District of North Carolina.”