USDA grants $1.2M to improve healthcare in 4 Puerto Rico towns
US Department of Agriculture Rural Development announced it is awarding a combined $1.2 million for four projects that are focused on improving Puerto Rico’s health sector.
The four projects selected for funding are in Juncos, Guaynabo, San Lorenzo and Jayuya.
Community-based Garden of Eden Health Center Corp. in Jayuya will receive $33,687 for its “COVID-19 Recovery Health Workers for Mameyes Arriba” project, through which it seeks to broaden access to COVID-19 testing and vaccines and provide essential healthcare services in the mountain town’s Mameyes Arriba sector.
The organization will hire two community health workers; one is a registered nurse (full-time) and the other a licensed nurse practitioner (full-time).
The Municipality of Guaynabo will use $323,799 to purchase three regular ambulances and a bariatric ambulance to primarily serve the rural population in the sectors of Guraguao, Mamey, Río, Sonadora, and Hato Nuevo Wards.
This acquisition is in response to the health challenges brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic, the proponents stated.
“As a result of this project, the municipality will be in a much better position to serve the community during current and future health crises,” the USDA explained.
The Municipality of Juncos will use the help of $513,750 to acquire a mobile medical clinic, to improve health services offered in the municipality’s rural communities.
Finally, the Municipality of San Lorenzo will receive $154, 875 to acquire a bariatric ambulance. Through the equipment, the town seeks to help improve health services offered to the town’s rural communities.
In general, the USDA’s investments — $74 million in total — aim to help 143 rural health care organizations expand critical services for 3 million people in 37 states, Guam, and Puerto Rico.
The investments include $32 million for 67 rural health care organizations to help more than 1 million people living in socially vulnerable communities.
“The Emergency Rural Health Care Grants being announced will build, renovate and equip health care provider facilities like hospitals and clinics in rural areas in 37 states,” said Rural Development Under Secretary, Xochitl Torres-Small.
“Having sustainable and accessible health care infrastructure in rural areas is critical to the health and well-being of the millions of people living in small towns across the Nation,” said Torres.
The US government made these funds available in the Emergency Rural Health Care Grants Programs through the American Rescue Plan Act.
The investments will help rural hospitals and health care providers implement telehealth and nutrition assistance programs, increase staffing to administer COVID-19 vaccines and testing, build or renovate facilities, and purchase medical supplies.
They also will help regional partnerships, public bodies, nonprofits, and Tribes solve regional rural health care problems and build a stronger, more sustainable rural health care system in response to the pandemic.
USDA will announce additional awardees for Emergency Rural Health Care Grants in the coming weeks and months, the agency confirmed.