Tester Secures $1.3 Million for Rural Montana Hospitals through American Rescue Plan Act
Big Horn Hospital Association, Community Hospital of Anaconda, Powder River County, Prairie County Hospital District, receive Emergency Rural Health Care Grants
As a part of his continued effort to strengthen health care systems in rural Montana in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today announced $1,342,353 in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Emergency Rural Health Care Grants for the Big Horn Hospital Association, the Community Hospital of Anaconda, Powder River County, and the Prairie County Hospital District through his American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
ARPA was signed into law on March 11, 2021, and Tester was Montana’s only statewide elected official to support the legislation.
“In a rural state like Montana, folks often have to drive for hours for access to life-saving health care,” said Tester. “These American Rescue Plan investments will make it easier for folks to find high quality, emergency health care close to home, and help to keep our communities safe for years to come.”
In August 2021, USDA made the Emergency Rural Health Care Grants available through ARPA to help rural health care facilities, Tribes, and communities expand access to health care services and nutrition assistance. The assistance is continuing to help provide immediate relief to support rural hospitals, health care clinics and local communities. USDA is administering the funds through Rural Development’s Community Facilities Program.
The Big Horn Hospital Association will receive $596,812 in ARPA funding, and will use it to acquire a new electronic health record (EHR) system and associated software which will interface with Billings Clinic facilities, which is where patients are often sent for further care. The seamless transition of records and information as patients utilize both healthcare providers will result in integrated record keeping and promote patient portal use for rural populations.
The Community Hospital of Anaconda will receive $116,300 in ARPA funding, and will use it to purchase an IT switch that will enhance the Community Hospital of Anaconda’s telehealth services. The IT switch is needed to allow better clarity for telemedicine and will result in fewer video and audio interruptions during patient conferencing. The switch will also alleviate IT-related storage issues. Rural Development funds, along with local funds, will be used to assist Anaconda, Deer Lodge, and surrounding areas with the best capability for telemedicine service and improved technology during the immediate and foreseeable future.
The Prairie County Hospital District will receive $506,741 in ARPA funding, and will use it to increase the size and improve the function of the hospital's emergency department. Prairie County Hospital (doing business as Prairie Community Hospital) is a county-owned critical access hospital that provides clinical and emergency services. The hospital is a certified Trauma Receiving Facility which fills a critical need in the community and surrounding areas. Funding will also be used to expand the laboratory capabilities and improve patient services.
Powder River County will receive $122,500 in ARPA funding, and will use it to purchase two ambulances for Powder River County. Powder River County recently took over the provision of emergency ambulance services for the area, as no provider was available to serve the county's approximate 2,000 residents.
In 2020, Tester held hundreds of meetings with Montana's workers, small business owners, frontline health care workers, educators, Tribes, and local officials to solicit input about what Montanans need to make it through the pandemic. Tester used that input to help craft the American Rescue Plan, which provided $20 billion in vaccine funding, $382 million for Montana K-12 schools, legislation to restore long-distance service to the Empire Builder Amtrak route, and billions for small businesses, rural hospitals and the Department of Veterans Affairs.