COLUMBIA – USDA Deputy Under Secretary Doug O’Brien today announced that the Department is accepting applications for grants to improve health care services in the Delta Region.
“This funding will help provide enhanced health care to Delta residents and provide care for people who don’t have access to quality services,” O’Brien said. “Today I am announcing the availability of more than $5.7 million that will be competitively awarded.”
The grants will be provided through the Delta Health Care Services Grant Program, which helps communities of up to 50,000 people address unmet health needs. Eligible applicants include higher education institutions, health and research institutes, economic development entities, health care cooperatives or consortia of at least three such entities in the Delta Region. This area includes 252 counties and parishes in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.
“Access to health care is a critical issue for rural Americans. Often, health care professionals and facilities are not available in rural communities. This is particularly true for the Delta Regional Authority counties in Missouri,” USDA Rural Development State Director Janie Dunning stated. “The Delta Health Care Services Grant Program is attempting to alleviate this issue. We encourage agencies and organizations in the Delta Region counties to review the requirements and apply for funding if eligible. Our partnership with the Delta Regional Authority is making, and has made, significant improvements in the quality of life for residents of the designated counties.”
USDA is partnering with the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) to deliver the program this year, and DRA is contributing $300,000 to the grant pool. Grants of $50,000 to $1 million are available from USDA. The maximum for DRA grants is $100,000.
Funds may be used to develop health care services, educational programs and job training programs. For more information about how to apply, see http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-04-14/pdf/2014-08363.pdf page 20857 of the April 14, 2014 Federal Register. Applications are due June 13, 2014.
In Fiscal Year 2013, South Central Ozark Council of Governments, in Pomona, received a $186,143 Delta Health Care Services grant. The purpose was to provide health risk assessments to the community at large, improve health education and training through health focus groups and to maintain connection with clients by providing wellness follow ups.
USDA has other programs that complement the services that can be offered through the Delta Health Care Services Grant Program. In December 2013, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA plans to invest up to $50 million to increase access to mental health care in rural areas during the next three years. The funding will be used to construct, expand or equip rural mental health facilities. It will be provided through Rural Development’s Community Facilities direct loan program.
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