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Nine rural healthcare providers in northern Maine receive grants to sustain patient care and provide food security

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Hometown Health Center
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Hometown Health Center's rendering for a new wellness facility in Palmyra. It is receiving a 1 million dollar grant from the USDA to help fund construction.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development has awarded nine grants totaling nearly 3 and a half million dollars to healthcare providers in six counties across northern Maine to help them recover from the pandemic and invest in equipment to sustain services to patients. USDA Rural Development Maine State Director Rhiannon Hampson said the grants show the commitment of the Biden-Harris Administration to help rural communities thrive.

"This is everything from support for healthy food access, to patient transport, and everything in between," Hampson said. "This is a recovery effort to help them sustain beyond the pandemic and to continue to provide services. There is no small reason and no small award. From 28 thousand dollars to a million dollars, each award is critical to the need it is meeting."

The grants are funded by the American Rescue Plan Act. Senator Angus King said seeing the delivery of relief funding to healthcare providers is one outcome Congress envisioned when it passed the American Rescue Plan.

"The delivery of healthcare services in small rural areas is a real challenge. That's why these grants are doubly important. They're going to have a big impact in their communities," King said.

The grants range from 28 thousand dollars to help the Piscataquis Regional Food Center buy a freezer and backup generator to safely store food, to 88 thousand dollars for a new ambulance for Dover-Foxcroft, to 1 million dollars to help Hometown Health Center build a new wellness facility. Hometown Health Center CEO Robin Winslow says the new Palmyra center will include a safe place for medication assisted therapy and a teaching kitchen.

"I have seen firsthand the vast array of needs in our community," Winslow said. "No longer can we just treat the physical or mental aspects of the patients. We need to increase the positive outcomes for our patients and the community."

USDA Rural Development awarded a total of 74 million dollars in grants to 143 rural healthcare organizations across the country.