August 03, 2009

Funding for Vernonia Schools/Rural Health Care Included in Labor/Health Appropriations Bill

Bill Is Headed to Senate Floor With $1.4 million in Funding for Oregon Projects

Washington, D.C. - Working to improve access to rural health care, much-needed school equipment and support for military families, U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D- Ore.) and Jeff Merkley (D- Ore.) announced that the Labor and Health and Human Services appropriations bill headed to the Senate floor includes more than $1.4 million in projects for Oregon.

"Whether by providing badly-needed classroom computers in flood-ravaged Vernonia, extending a hand to our returning soldiers, or fueling economic development in distressed parts of the state, the projects in this bill will improve the lives of many Oregonians," said Wyden.

"A strong education system and quality health care services are vital components of a healthy economy," said Merkley. "These funds will improve health care access for rural and underserved populations, supply our soldiers and veterans with the medical care they deserve, and invest in education facilities while creating jobs."

The bill will be considered by the full Senate and upon passage will be reconciled with the version passed by the House of Representatives and then sent to the President for his signature. Funding will only be available at the end of the process.

Some of the appropriations in the bill include:

Helping our Heroes - Preventing Suicide Among Oregon Soldiers and Providing Support to Military Families - $300,000

This project will create a dedicated Oregon line at Oregon Partnership's LifeLine Call Center for returning soldiers and their families dealing with mental health, suicide, and alcohol and drug problems. The program will provide hands-on support to military children and families prior to, during, and after the deployment of a parent or loved one. Calls will be answered by trained war veterans.

Renovation and Repair of Asher Community Health Center - $200,000

This project will help bring the 37-year-old health center, the only one in Wheeler County, up to current construction standards.

Vernonia School Equipment Replacement - $150,000

This project will fund new network infrastructure, computer equipment, and furniture in all three Vernonia schools damaged by the flooding in 2007. The funding would also go toward the technology needed to provide adequate internet and computer access for students.

Women Veterans Trauma Rehabilitation Center - $100,000

Funds will be used to help reconfigure and recommission the Eastern Oregon Training Center (EOTC) to offer post-acute and intermediate-term treatment and rehabilitation for women veterans who have suffered post-traumatic stress, brain trauma, sexual trauma, and related forms of debilitating physical and psychological injury in the course of military service.

Northeastern Oregon Business and Economic Growth Project, Blue Mountain Community College - $100,000

This project is designed to fuel economic development in Northeastern Oregon, a rural, economically distressed region, with an at-risk population characterized by high poverty, high unemployment, and low educational attainment. It will expand access for the local population to a wider and deeper range of postsecondary education and training programs, to increase the number of skilled and educated workers in the region, and to establish the comprehensive postsecondary-education infrastructure required to attract new businesses to the area.

Cove Health Clinic - $100,000

This funding will be used to help construct a 1,200 square foot health care services building in Cove, Oregon. The building, leased to South County Health District professionals, will assist them in providing health care to underserved, rural residents.

Providing Early Childhood Development and Education Via Therapeutic Classrooms for Children at Risk of Abuse and Neglect - $100,000

Funding for this project will help create therapeutic classrooms in each of the 11 Relief Nurseries in Oregon. This is a program that supports natural and normal development of children who are experiencing challenges early in their lives due to the stresses of their home environment and threat of abuse.

Making Smiles, Changing Lives: Providing Low-Cost Dental Care to Uninsured, Underserved Children - $100,000

This funding will go toward improving Kiddazzle, a program that recruits dental professionals to provide low-cost or free restorative and preventive dental services to uninsured or underserved children. This funding will increase the number of volunteers in the network, penetrate rural, outlying and hard-to-reach communities in each county, provide follow-up care for children receiving emergency care through other programs, and educate target populations on preventive care.

Simulation Equipment for Lane Community College's Nursing Program Expansion - $100,000

This funding will go toward providing critical health information technology, simulation equipment, and other health care training equipment to allow Lane Community College to expand training and professional programs in health care.

Oregon Center for Translational Genomics - $100,000

This funding will go to Oregon Health Sciences University to help purchase advanced, state-of-the-art equipment designed to sequence genes at significantly higher rates of speed. This will go along with the creation of a new center, the Oregon Center for Translational Genomics, to develop new avenues for diagnosing disease, finding new treatments and analyzing responses to treatments through genetic research.