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RHMP to receive over $62K to aid in regional efforts to fight virus

On Monday, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-AL, announced that more than $350,000 in coronavirus supplemental funding for Community Health Centers (CHCs) in Alabama’s 7th Congressional District had been handed down through the $100 million appropriate for CHCs in the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriation Act, the first bill passed by Congress in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our Community Health Centers are critical in our fight against the coronavirus, especially in the rural parts of our district,” Sewell said in a press release. “These important health providers are already being stressed beyond capacity. That is why I am pleased this vital funding is being distributed quickly to help our Community Health Centers tackle this virus.  We will continue to work to ensure that all our health providers get more federal resources to fight this pandemic.”

Among the CHCs to receive funding was Rural Health Medical Program (RHMP), which will see $62,666 in funding to fight the spread of the virus in rural counties across Alabama’s Black Belt.

According to RHMP CEO Keshee Dozier-Smith, the local CHC has been participating in countywide town hall meetings in an effort to better understand the needs of community leaders and organizations, with an eye toward positioning themselves “to best provide healthcare and tangible needs” during the crisis.

“Our plan is to remain an active and accessible Community Health Center providing access to primary and preventative health care to our community members [and serve] as COVID-19 Patient Care Coordinators,” Dozier-Smith said. “Our goal is to ensure that any patient – insured or uninsured – that does not have a primary care provider (PCP) is able to select Rural Health as their PCP, now and in the future. We do have plans to eventually become a testing site, but at this time we are developing a strategic plan on how to ensure we have the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and position ourselves in counties within our service area that do not have testing facilities.”

Other 7th District CHCs to receive funding were Whatley Health Services, which received nearly $92,000, Aletheia House, which received more that $54,700, Alabama Regional Medical Services, which received $69,145, and Christ Health Center, which received more than $72,800.

To date, Congress has passed three packages to address the growing national pandemic, the first of which provides $8.3 billion in supplemental grants and expanded telemedicine services for CHCs for the development of treatments and prevention, preparedness and response measures.

The second package took aim at the economic fallout resulting from the crisis by providing paid sick and family leave for some U.S. workers, expanding unemployment assistant and more.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the multi-trillion-dollar third package which was passed into law Friday, provides an additional $1.32 billion in supplemental funding for CHCs and allows Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), including CHCs, and Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) to provide telehealth services to Medicare beneficiaries, including in beneficiaries’ homes to avoid spreading the virus.