By Carol Vaughn —
Eastern Shore Rural Health System, Inc., is one of 29 Virginia community health centers to receive funding through the American Rescue Plan to support COVID-19 testing, treatment, and vaccination efforts.
Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner and Rep. Elaine Luria announced nearly $80 million in federal funding for Virginia health centers will be awarded by the Health Resources and Services Administration starting in April.
Eastern Shore Rural Health will receive around $5.7 million.
The health care organization includes four medical centers and five dental locations and is the primary care provider for around 75% of Eastern Shore residents.
The funding is part of $10 billion, within the $1.9 trillion federal economic recovery package, to be used to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines and to build vaccine confidence in the hardest-hit and highest-risk communities, according to a press release from Luria.
“Eastern Shore Rural Health System, Inc. is grateful to receive more than $5.7 million through the American Rescue Plan Act to expand access to services to all residents of Virginia’s Eastern Shore,” said Matt Clay, ESRH chief executive officer.
Residents do not have to have ESRH as their primary care provider to receive a vaccine at one of its health centers.
“Within the next few weeks we will be exploring opportunities to use these funds to better serve our community including providing care for vulnerable populations and combatting COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy to get more residents vaccinated,” Clay said, adding, “Rural Health strives to ensure equity — that all residents have access to quality care — and this funding will help us continue to achieve this.”
The organization has not yet received the notice of grant award to study the details of allowed uses of the funds in order to form a plan, according to spokesperson Amy Bull.
“The American Rescue Plan is critical to expanding access to the vaccine, ending the pandemic and securing the economic recovery for the Eastern Shore,” said Rep. Luria
“Getting more resources to our rural communities is a top priority of mine, and I’m thrilled that Eastern Shore Rural Health System can use this funding to help so many people.”
“For the past year, our community health centers have been on the front lines of providing care to our most vulnerable communities during the COVID-19 crisis,” a press release from Kaine and Warner said, adding, “Thanks to the congressional passage and eventual signing of the American Rescue Plan, we are now able to provide these critical federal dollars so that our community health centers can continue to provide lifesaving care to the folks who need it the most.”
Health centers will be able to use these funds to support and expand COVID-19 vaccination, testing, and treatment for vulnerable populations; deliver needed preventive and primary health care services to those at higher risk for COVID-19; and expand health centers’ operational capacity during the pandemic and beyond, including modifying and improving physical infrastructure and adding mobile units, according to the release.