10/19/09 — Health care facilities get grants from government

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Health care facilities get grants from government

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on October 19, 2009 1:47 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- The Mount Olive Family Medicine Center is slated to receive a $76,300 grant through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing $30 million for 36 community facilities projects across the country, many of which are health care facilities.

The grant will be used as part of a $214,000 project aimed at converting all of the practice's 18,927 active charts to electronic medical records, manager Carol Dilda said.

Once the system is in place, it will provide an easy way for different offices to share vital patient information. When a family physician refers a patient to a specialist, all of the patient's medical history, including allergies, chronic conditions or current medications will be transmitted with the click of a button.

The project would not be possible without the help of special facilities funding such as the money from the USDA, Mrs. Dilda said.

Kenansville-based Carolina East Home Care & Hospice Inc. was also awarded a $1,271,000 loan and a $150,000 grant from the USDA. The not-for-profit, community-based organization provides home health services, hospice services and case management to people in seven counties in North Carolina, including Wayne County.

This is not the first time the center has worked with government funding, Executive Director Lynn Hardy said. The newly opened Milford and Reba Quinn Hospice Care Center was also constructed with USDA loan and grant money. However, the recently announced funding will be used for a different project.

"This is actually a loan and a grant for the construction for our home care services building," she said. "All our hospice and home health and case management staff will be in that building. We'll have counseling rooms and a meeting room for community activity."

The interest rate on the $1.2 million, 30-year loan is very low, set at 4.25 percent. That was a big reason why the center's administration decided to pursue the funding, she said.

The center will receive the full amount it applied for, and will contribute an additional $200,000 to cover construction costs. The money will be allocated to the center by early next year, and the town of Kenansville is running sewer lines to the construction site. Once that happens, construction will begin in March or April of 2010.

The funding will come from the USDA's Rural Development Community Facilities program, which helps finance community facilities for public use in rural areas. The facilities receiving money include hospitals, health care and assisted-living facilities, child care centers, fire and rescue stations, police stations, community centers, public buildings and transportation. The funds were offered to public bodies, non-profit organizations and federally recognized Indian tribes.

The USDA has provided more than $94 million in Recovery Act funding for 146 health care projects across the country.