Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth Announce Funding for Six Rural Illinois Health Care Providers

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Dustin Clark | @dustinclark.oof

Senators announce funding for six rural Illinois health care providers

On April 13, the office of U.S. Senator Dick Durbin announced as an extension of the Biden Administration’s American Rescue Plan, they would be providing over $3 million in funding for 6 healthcare providers in rural Illinois.

According to Durbin, the intended goal of the round of funding is to assist the public in accessing COVID-19 vaccines, testing, food assistance and other healthcare services.

“Across Illinois, rural hospitals and health care providers are the backbone of their communities, providing essential access points to care and anchoring the local economy,” Durbin stated in a press release. “Yet, many grapple with financial vulnerabilities that have only increased during the pandemic.”

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In the same press release, Senator Duckworth made clear her intentions in helping pass the funding measure.

“Illinois’s rural healthcare providers are critical to extending reliable and accessible care to Illinoisans and providing jobs in communities,” Duckworth said. “Democrats intended for the American Rescue Plan to serve working families and by supporting healthcare access across our great state, we’re able to help do that.”

One of the organizations included in the line of funding is Arrowleaf, a nonprofit that provides dozens of programs for behavioral health, developmental services and community collaboration across southern Illinois. Sherrie Crabb, CEO of Arrowleaf, said the intended use of the funds will be to renovate an Arrowleaf building in Cairo, Illinois.

“This building really needs an upgrade,” Crabb said. “It’s not had any major improvements since it was built in the early 2000s to late 1990s. […] We requested $362,900 from the federal government and we are matching 25%, so we’ll end up sharing the cost. We’ll put another $120K-121K into the project and the total renovations are going to be a little more than $483,000.”

Crabb said that she believes the location in Cairo will provide a positive impact on the community as a whole.

“We’re just really excited for a new building in Cairo to be invested in and be a shining light,” Crabb said. “If you or anybody else has been to Cairo, there’s a lot of dilapidated buildings and buildings that are just vacant or half-burned, and so to be able to kind of bring that focal point and light to the main road there in Cairo, I think it’s going to be hopefully a good thing.”

Another hospital set to receive funding is Illini Community Hospital in Illini, Illinois. This hospital will be receiving nearly $900,000 for a new drive-thru clinic, which will provide COVID vaccinations, testing and treatment. Kathy Hull, CEO of the hospital, said the goal of the new clinic was to decrease potential exposure.

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“In case there is another spike,” Hull said, “we would be able to use the drive through as a testing location as well as a potential treatment for lower level care needs without unduly putting people at risk for exposure to sicker patients.”

Hull said the Illinois Senate making some changes to Medicaid and Medicare would be beneficial, in her opinion.

“I would love to see some legislation governing Medicare and Medicaid replacement plans,” Hull said, “as it seems there are some that are very willing to deny every claim on the first try with not a lot of justification and this just adds to the cost of healthcare overall.”

Another organization receiving funding from the plan is the Salem Township Hospital in Salem, Illinois. The hospital is being provided with nearly $800,000, which will be used to finance construction and fund new equipment like video monitoring systems, disinfectant chemicals and incubators. Alexander Nazarian, the CEO of Salem Hospital, said a significant portion of the funding will be used to upgrade their current airflow system.

“A large portion of these funds will be used to upgrade our private patient rooms to negative air flow,” Nazarian said. “This means that the contaminated air is safely vented outside and does not pose danger to the rest of the building. This will double our bed capacity to admit COVID patients and reduce the shortage of staffed beds that becomes an issue at every outbreak.”

While the funding will certainly aid the hospital, Nazarian believes there is more the Illinois Senate should be focusing on in the realm of public health in the future.

“COVID has exposed quite a few vulnerabilities in the health care delivery continuum,” Nazarian said, “We are fortunate in Illinois to have healthcare coverage for the majority of our population. I think in the long term the Senate needs to look at how this coverage is applied. We are seeing a proliferation of insurance coverage such as high deductible plans or managed care Medicaid or Medicare plans that discourage patients from seeking care until it’s too late.”

Staff reporter Ethan Braun can be reached at [email protected].To stay up to date with all your Southern Illinois news follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

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