Missouri’s small rural hospitals will receive almost $8.3 million in federal aid, part of a White House initiative to assist small-town healthcare centers fighting a renewed surge of COVID-19.

The money will go to 32 facilities around the state, including Texas County Memorial Hospital  — coming out to approximately $260,000 per hospital. All of those receiving federal funds have fewer than 50 beds, and 25 are labeled critical access hospitals, which have 25 or fewer beds and limited service.

“The Biden administration recognizes the important role that small rural hospitals have in closing the equity gap and ensuring that rural Americans can protect themselves and their communities from COVID-19,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

Hospitals can use the funding to expand COVID-19 testing capacity and access, as well as mitigation efforts, depending on the needs of communities. The money will be distributed through the state’s Offices of Rural Health.

The federal assistance comes as rural Missouri is being ravaged by the more infectious Delta variant of the virus, with cases rising and larger hospitals in southwest Missouri straining to accommodate surging hospitalizations. Missouri is spreading faster than most states on any given day.

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