Press Release

Welch and USDA Undersecretary Torres Small Announce $28.4 Million USDA Investment in Rural Vermont Health Care Facilities

Mar 24, 2023

ST. JOHNSBURY, VT – Senator Peter Welch (D-VT) today held a roundtable discussion on health care challenges in Vermont’s rural communities and announced new funding to support health care facilities in St. Johnsbury and Waterbury. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development (RD) Under Secretary Xochitl Torres Small and USDA Rural Development State Director Sarah Waring joined Sen. Welch to announce $28.4 million in USDA grants to Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital (NVRH) and Copley Hospital. The investments are expected to save more than 400 jobs and benefit more than 9,500 rural Vermonters. 

“The folks at NVRH and Copley work hard to provide high-quality health care for Vermonters with limited access to essential services. It’s critical work, and with grant funding from USDA, they can expand their services and help more Vermonters stay healthy and well,” said Sen. Welch. “I’m grateful to Under Secretary Torres Small and State Director Waring for their support for rural communities, and I look forward to continuing to work alongside them to improve health care access for all Vermonters.”  

“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to making sure rural people have access to critical care close to home, no matter where they live,” said Under Secretary Torres Small. “Thanks to the leadership of Senator Peter Welch, these projects will help thousands of people in rural Vermont access the modern, cutting-edge hospital and health care they deserve.”  

“These resilient, resourceful health care institutions are more than deserving of this crucial funding,” said State Director Waring. “With the many challenges that doctors, nurses and staff have navigated over the last few years, it’s an honor for us to help make their lives and work just a little easier with these investments. This modernization of space and services embodies the Biden-Harris Administration’s mission to improve quality of life in rural America, resulting in better health care access, more options and improved health maintenance for rural Vermonters.” 

“We are incredibly grateful to have the support of the USDA, Senator Sanders, Senator Welch and Congresswoman Balint for this project,” said NVRH Chief Executive Officer Shawn Tester. “It validates just how important the emergency department and lab expansion is for the community we serve. The loan provisions also contribute to the long-term financial sustainability of NVRH, which is especially critical as we know rural healthcare systems are straining everywhere following the global pandemic. We are looking forward to our partnerships with the USDA team and our congressional leaders throughout the construction phase of this project as well as the life of the loan.” 

Through the USDA’s Community Facilities Direct Loans and Emergency Rural Health Care grant program, the hospitals will receive grant funding to expand capacity, modernize facilities, and improve health care access for Vermonters.  

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