Local Y, others see influx of federal funds to boost rural health

Family YMCA
Published: Aug. 11, 2022 at 11:35 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - From helping the YMCA feed hungry kids to offering COVID testing, a new round of grant funds will help improve CSRA residents’ health, federal officials said Thursday.

The newly announced funds are among a flurry of grants awarded in the past few days to improve care in rural Georgia.

In the CSRA, the $4.5 million announced for Georgia by the U.S. Department of Agriculture include five individual grants to the Family Y of the CSRA to fight food insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At each of these YMCA sites, funds will be used to buy food, a van for transporting the food and the hiring of additional personnel:

  • Burke County: $57,800
  • Jefferson County: $73,700
  • Lincoln County: $35,100
  • McDuffie County: $146,600
  • Barnwell County, S.C.: $44,000.

The grants also include:

  • $1 million for the Washington County Hospital Authority to recover revenue lost due to COVID-19 pandemic, funding the USDA said “will allow the hospital to continue to offer valuable services to the community during the pandemic.”
  • $295,000 for Community Healthcare Systems to provide essential laboratory equipment and supplies for VCOVID testing in Baldwin, Glascock, Hancock, Jefferson, Johnson, Laurens, Taliaferro, Telfair, Twiggs, Warren, Washington and Wilkinson counties.

The funds announced Thursday in Georgia are part of a nationwide allocation of $74 million to help 143 rural health care organizations. The money is included in the American Rescue Plan.

Also in the past week, the Georgia Department of Community Health awarded $9 million in grant funds to 10 rural hospitals across the state, with each hospital receiving $900,000.

Jefferson Hospital in Louisville and Wills Memorial Hospital in Wilkes County are among the recipients.

Those funds were made possible through the Rural Hospital Stabilization Grant.

Meanwhile, federal money is headed for a part of the statewide system coordinated by Augusta University to recruit and retain primary-care providers for rural and urban underserved areas.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will send $1.33 million to the Southwest Georgia Area Health Education Center in Albany, which is part of that AU-led system.

Across the Savannah River in South Carolina, Family Health Centers Inc. in Orangeburg is set to receive $65,000 from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Officials say health disparities between rural and urban areas tripled between 1999 and 2019, with rural residents experiencing higher rates of heart disease, respiratory disease, cancer, stroke, unintentional injury and suicide, plus higher risk of maternal morbidity and mortality.

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