August 18, 2022

Wyden, Merkley Announce Emergency Rural Health Care Grants Headed to Oregon

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today announced a total of $346,000 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) headed to three Oregon communities to upgrade facilities so they can better serve families and increase access to essential medical services.

"No matter your zip code, every Oregonian should have easy access to the care they need," Wyden said. "This money will go a long way in addressing hunger, keeping mental health care available and making visits to the pharmacy easier in rural communities across our state."

 “It is essential for Oregonians in every corner of the state to have access to the resources they need to be safe and healthy,” said Merkley. “This crucial funding will better equip Clatsop, Lane, and Union Counties with the tools needed to address hunger and improve health in the community, by updating existing food distribution facilities, making treatment facility improvements, and ensuring easy and reliable access to pharmacies for our rural communities.”

 The projects include:

Clatsop Community Action, Clatsop County -- $237,900

This Rural Development investment will be used to purchase two new food distribution trucks, a new refrigerator and walk-in freezer, and remodel the existing dry storage area. Clatsop Community Action's food distribution facility is located in Warrenton, a small community in Clatsop County, Oregon and they are organized to operate throughout the county. The existing facility was built in 2010 and is in good condition, however, increased demand for services resulting from the impacts of the pandemic have made it necessary to increase both dry and cold food storage capacity. The project will ensure that this rural area will have the storage equipment required to enhance its food distribution capabilities to benefit county residents for years to come.

  South Lane Mental Health, Lane County -- $58,200

This Rural Development investment will be used to purchase a covered gazebo, picnic tables and chairs to facilitate outdoor COVID safe therapy sessions, HEPA air purifiers for offices to further protect clients and clinicians and a new key fob system to increase security and the ability to screen visitors for COVID. South Lane Mental Health has several care facilities in the community of Cottage Grove. These facilities do not currently have an air filtration system or outdoor meeting areas. These improvements are needed to reduce the impact and spread of COVID by allowing for safer meeting spaces, healthier air quality in offices and the ability to more safely screen for symptoms upon entry into the facilities. Overall, this project will ensure that this rural area will have the needed funds to purchase equipment and enhance its capabilities to respond to COVID for the residents of Cottage Grove and the surrounding area for years to come.

 Elgin Health District, Union County -- $49,900

This Rural Development investment will be used to help purchase equipment to start a tele pharmacy and enhance capabilities to respond to COVID-19. The residents of Elgin have been without a pharmacy for 15 years and must drive into La Grande, 20 miles away to get their prescriptions. The Elgin Health District built the clinic in 2008 and currently offers medical, dental and limited behavioral health services in rural Elgin, but it has no pharmacy. The health care clinic will purchase and install tele pharmacy equipment at the clinic location and at Grande Ronde Hospital in La Grande. This project will ensure that this rural area will have the needed funds to purchase tele pharmacy equipment and enhance its capabilities to provide enhanced medical services to the residents of Elgin and the surrounding area for years to come.

 "Due to the pandemic, the need for food in Clatsop County has increased drastically, just as everywhere else. Thanks to the funding we have received from USDA RD, CCA will be able to have on hand more food for distribution in our community. We are extremely grateful to everyone who has helped CCA to acquire this funding. It is so needed and will be well used to reach those in need. Our organization and our community greatly appreciates the assistance," said Clatsop Community Action Executive Director Viviana Matthews.