Facility Will Receive More Than $54 Million in Loan Assistance and Bring Medical Expertise to Rural Areas, Including Substance Use Disorder Treatment
WILMINGTON, Ohio, Sept. 22, 2016 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced a $54.6 million Community Facilities program loan to the Fulton County Health Center in Wauseon, Ohio, to renovate a critical access hospital that also offers treatment for substance misuse disorders.
"USDA's investment in much-needed medical facilities is bringing state-of-the-art health care to residents in our rural communities," Vilsack said. "When complete, the hospital and new medical office building will have the staff and equipment to deliver quality medical services to Fulton County, including treatment for patients who have opioid and other substance use disorders."
Secretary Vilsack is leading an interagency effort to address the rural opioid crisis, which disproportionately affects rural areas. He made the announcement here today as part of the White House's efforts this week to bring increased attention to the opioid crisis in rural areas. On Aug. 31, Vilsack announced an initiative to provide transitional housing for rural Americans who are seeking to recover from substance use disorders.
Vilsack was on the campus of Clinton County's Wilmington College where a similar $19.7 million USDA Community Facilities loan in 2013 helped to finance the rehabilitation of Kettering Hall, home of the school's Center for Science and Agriculture.
"Standing in the rejuvenated Kettering Hall, we see proof of how USDA's Community Facilities program can have a massive, positive impact in rural areas," Vilsack said. "A few short years ago, Wilmington was reeling from the loss of the region's primary employer, which quadrupled the unemployment rate. But with steady effort and dedicated public-private partnerships, the tide is turning and the community is making a comeback."
Today's tour of the Center for Science and Agriculture included viewing renovations to the circa 1960s original footprint. These renovations focused on removing environmental hazards, updating mechanical systems and improving building accessibility. The 15,000-square-foot building addition provides much-needed classroom and laboratory space for Wilmington College's growing STEM program.
Vilsack said Wauseon and the surrounding region on Ohio's northern border also stand to benefit from the Fulton County Health Center's Community Facilities loan, particularly because the Center is the only medical provider in the area. USDA funds will help construct a 62,220-square-foot medical office building, easing a space shortage and helping attract additional medical specialists to the area. About 80 new jobs are anticipated as a result.
Today's funding builds on USDA's historic investments in rural America over the past seven years. Since 2009, USDA has worked to strengthen and support rural communities and American agriculture, an industry that supports one in 11 American jobs, provides American consumers with more than 80 percent of the food we consume, ensures that Americans spend less of their paychecks at the grocery store than most people in other countries, and supports markets for homegrown renewable energy and materials.
From 2009 to 2015, USDA has invested more than $36.9 billion in Ohio, including more than $5.1 billion to support affordable housing, ag producers and small businesses, improved water systems, telecommunications, broadband and other critical infrastructure. These investments have helped create jobs and promote economic opportunity for those who live, work and raise their families in rural Ohio. USDA has also invested $828 million in efforts to conserve and protect Ohio's land, water and air resources and more than $275 million in Ohio to support research that will secure and improve our food, agricultural and natural resources systems.
Since 2009, USDA Rural Development (@USDARD) has helped bring high-speed Internet access to nearly 6 million rural residents and businesses; invested nearly $13 billion to start or expand nearly 112,000 rural businesses; helped 1.1 million rural residents buy homes; and funded nearly 9,200 community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care facilities. USDA also has invested $31.3 billion in 963 electric projects that have financed more than 185,000 miles of transmission and distribution lines serving 4.6 million rural residents and more than $13.3 billion to finance rural water and wastewater projects. To read more about USDA's investments in rural America and its successful turnaround, visit USDA's latest entry on Medium.com, Rural America Is Back in Business.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.