Whitfield Receives USDA grant to replace boiler system
Published 10:00 am Tuesday, November 8, 2022
Last Tuesday, November 1, Whitfield Regional Hospital was the site of a press conference for grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA invested $7.3 million in grants to help support rural healthcare providers and improve healthcare facilities across the state.
“For those who are living in rural Alabama, access to healthcare is a very important issue,” said Rural Development Alabama State Director Nivoy Gordon. “For some families, being able to access modern healthcare facilities can factor in the family’s decision to locate to or stay in a rural community. In order to make sure that rural Alabamians have equal access to healthcare as those who live in our urban centers, USDA is working to help support rural healthcare systems. The investments announced here today will help to ensure these healthcare providers can continue to serve those communities that they proudly call home.”
The investments USDA is announcing will help build, renovate and equip health care facilities like hospitals and clinics in rural areas across Alabama.
The investments will be used for projects such as those to help rural hospitals and health care providers implement telehealth and nutrition assistance programs, increase staffing to administer COVID-19 vaccines and testing, build or renovate facilities, and purchase medical supplies.
WRH received a $910,000 grant to replace its aged boiler system, which is vital in operating the hospital.
“We filed for assistance from the USDA to replace our 50 plus year old boilers. One of them went down completely and couldn’t be fixed last December. And the other one is on its last legs. We had to put a rental in place with the one that is still functioning,” said Whitfield CEO/Administrator Doug Brewer.
Brewer said the project itself will probably be somewhere in the neighborhood of $2-$2.5 million. This investment from the USDA will allow the hospital to own the boiler and save money. It will also benefit 21,027 rural residents of Marengo County and surrounding areas.
The grant is strictly for replacing the boiler system, which is a top priority for WRH as they are the “lifeblood of the hospital. The boilers provide hot water, heating, and steam for dishwashers and autoclaves used to sterilize surgical instruments.
Brewer said the grant is important to the hospital because it allows them to save money that can be used towards something else.
“Every penny is crucial for us right now as we try to update our facility as well as just make it over the long term. It’s gotten really hard for hospitals because we can’t increase our prices. What we get paid is what we get paid by Medicare and Medicaid and even private insurers. You’ve got to have things like this to help keep the hospital viable over the long term,” said Brewer.
Brewer said the hospital is looking into other programs that might help keep the hospital and its equipment updated.
“That is something that will be ongoing for us going forward. To try and keep the facility state of the art and providing the best care possible,” said Brewer.