The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Community Facilities Emergency Rural Health Care Grant Program has awarded $10.9m in federal funds to expand access to healthcare in rural Virginia.

The financing will be used to increase access to telehealth and the capacity of mental health and substance use treatment programmes, as well as update vital medical equipment.

Around $5.1m of the funding will be allocated to the Virginia Consortium to improve access to telehealth services in Appalachia by expanding regional networks.

A further $5m will be provided to the Mount Rogers Community Services (MRCS) Smyth County campus, which will use the funds to expand access to mental health, developmental disability and substance use disorder treatment.

The remaining $850,500 will be given to the Bath County Community Hospital to buy an X-ray machine and an electronic medical records system subscription.

Virginia senators Mark R Warner and Tim Kaine said: “All Virginians, no matter where they live, should have access to high-quality, reliable health care.

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“We’re glad this funding will help expand telehealth services, improve capacity for mental health and substance use treatment programs, and update essential medical equipment so that more Virginians can get the care they need.”

Senators Warner and Kaine had previously launched the CONNECT for Health Act of 2023, which aims to expand the coverage of telehealth services via Medicare.

The act also aims to make permanent telehealth flexibilities that were enacted during the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as make it easier for patients to connect with their doctors.

In March this year, the senators introduced the Save Rural Hospitals Act, which aims to reduce hospital closures in rural communities by ensuring that hospitals are fairly reimbursed for their services by the federal government.

The USDA’s Community Facilities Emergency Rural Health Care Grant Program aims to help rural healthcare facilities, tribes and communities expand access to healthcare services and nutrition assistance.