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Local area impacted by $16 million health investments


Last updated 12/7/2022 at 11:19am

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Monday a pair of multi-million-dollar grants through the American Rescue Plan Act to expand health care resources and access in Montana that will have a big impact on north-central Montana.

Bear Paw Development Corp. in Havre received $10 million to provide for the construction the Anaakyaaniiin Wellness Center on Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in Hays and the Bighorn Valley Health Center received more than $6.3 million for renovations to the historic Miles City building in which it will be housed and provide services in towns including telehealth in Blaine County.

A release from USDA says the Anaakyaaniiin Wellness Center will increase access to health care services, recruit and retain providers and integrate cultural beliefs and resources for the people of the area.

Meanwhile the Bighorn Valley Health Center will include a pharmacy, dental clinic, public meeting space and clinical training program and be integrated with Custer County Public Health Department.

The USDA release says satellite sites will be set up to receive telehealth services from the Miles City hub in Chinook and Harlem as well as the Crow Agency, Hardin, Lame Deer, Lewistown, Lodge Grass, Wibaux and Wyola.

“This project will help deliver critical health care resources to more than 45,000 residents in rural Montana,” the release says.

The release says these grants are part of a larger effort to provide immediate relief to rural areas’ health care needs including Montana’s tribes.

“USDA Rural Development is committed to advancing ideas and solutions that address challenges and support long-term sustainability in rural health care,” said USDA Rural Development Montana State Director Kathleen Williams. “These projects are a wonderful example of how collaboration with local partners can address critical needs and bring much needed health care resources to rural and tribal areas in Montana.”

The funds are coming from the American Rescue Plan Act, passed in 2021 to help provide assistance dealing with and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Within months after the act’s passage, USDA responded quickly by making this funding available to ensure the long-term availability of rural health care services.

In August 2021, USDA made the Emergency Rural Health Care Grants available to help rural health care facilities, tribes and communities expand access to health care services and nutrition assistance.

The assistance is helping 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, a USDA release said.

USDA Rural Development has six offices in Montana — Billings, Bozeman, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell and Missoula. To learn more about investment resources for rural areas in Montana, people can call 406-585-2530 or visit http://www.rd.usda.gov/mt .


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