U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small met with UVA Health leaders and other health institutions in Virginia on Tuesday, July 25 to announce its expanding access to healthcare for more than five million people living in 39 states, including Virginia, and Puerto Rico through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda.
As part of the expansion, the USDA is awarding $129 million in Emergency Rural Health Care Grants to improve healthcare facilities in rural towns across the nation. The USDA investments include a $5.1 million grant recently awarded to the UVA Health School of Medicine’s Center for Telehealth and a coalition of Southwest Virginia partners focused on combating health problems in Southwest Virginia. The partnership, called the Virginia Consortium to Advance Healthcare in Appalachia, includes the UVA Center for Telehealth, the Healthy Appalachia Institute at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, the Southwest Virginia Health Authority, the Health Wagon, Tri-Area Health and Ballad Health. The consortium’s goal is to expand the region’s access to care for COVID-19 and chronic health conditions that have been worsened by the pandemic, along with establishing a long-term blueprint for providing care in rural communities.
According to UVA Health School of Medicine Center for Telehealth Director, Karen Rheuban, MD, who also met with Deputy Secretary Torres Small, the USDA grant will be used to improve Appalachian regional infrastructure, training programs (Project ECHO), access to Long Covid services, and provide strategic planning in partnership with the College at Wise and the Southwest Virginia Health Authority.
Watch news coverage on NBC29.