The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), has awarded $7,247,812 in American Rescue Plan funding to 11 health centers in Utah to expand their primary healthcare infrastructure in medically underserved communities. Additionally, to bolster their efforts combatting COVID-19 locally, health center recipients in Utah may also use this funding to secure freezers to store COVID-19 vaccines, purchase mobile vans to better reach and vaccinate marginalized communities or construct, renovate or expand their facilities so they are better equipped for future pandemics or public health challenges. In total, this funding will support 16 health center projects in Utah.
“Health centers are lifelines for many of our most vulnerable families across the country, especially amidst the pandemic,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Thanks to American Rescue Plan funds, we’re modernizing facilities across the country to better meet the most pressing public health challenges associated with COVID-19. This historic investment means we get to expand access to care for COVID-19 testing, treatment and vaccination — all with an eye towards advancing equity.”
“HRSA-funded health centers play a vital role in the local community response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said HRSA Acting Administrator Diana Espinosa. “Investing in health center construction and modernization will significantly increase access to affordable, high-quality primary healthcare services in underserved communities across the nation.”
The funds will be awarded to health centers that serve medically underserved and other vulnerable populations and communities, which are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and other health conditions, according to a release from the agency. By constructing new facilities or renovating and expanding existing facilities, health centers will ensure that these communities will have more equitable access to high-quality primary health care. More than 91 percent of health center patients are individuals or families living at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines and nearly 63 percent are racial/ethnic minorities.