RCH to receive part of $5.5 million funding

US Department of Health and Human Services announces Illinois portion of funds to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in rural communities


ROCHELLE — On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through the Health Resources and Services Administration awarded $5,564,922 to Illinois to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in rural communities. Specifically, this funding was awarded to the Illinois Department of Public Health as an investment to support small rural hospitals in Illinois.

“Today’s funding gives rural hospitals in Illinois critical support to build up their capacity for fighting COVID-19 in their communities,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “This funding, secured by President Trump from Congress, will build on historic efforts by the Trump Administration to help all Americans in Illinois access the care they need during the pandemic.”

Part of that funding will be distributed locally to Rochelle Community Hospital.

“This funding is the result of a grant that assists rural hospitals such as Rochelle Community Hospital and since we qualified we should be receiving approximately $84,000,” RCH CEO Gregg Olson said. “We’re waiting for a notice of grant awards to go through and then the distribution will be made. Our intent is to help fund our hospital’s day-to-day operations."

HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy received $150 million through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to assist hospitals across the nation, funded through the Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program, respond to this public health emergency.

The CARES Act funding allows hospitals maximum flexibility in how they respond to COVID-19 within their communities, including the provision of testing and laboratory services as well as the purchase of personal protective equipment to minimize COVID-19 exposure.  

“There’s been a great deal of cross-training that has taken place in preparation for a possible surge in COVID-19 patients,” Olson explained. “Some of our staff members have voluntarily taken some time off, some have taken low census and it is the combination of all these changes that has helped our situation. RCH staff are really doing a great job adapting to the pandemic as best we can. We have a lot of area partners, especially the Ogle County Health Department and the City of Rochelle, who are working very closely with us as we focus on caring for our community and county.”

Each hospital across the nation is combating COVID-19 differently.

“As the nation combats COVID-19, hospitals, particularly in rural communities, play an integral role in care delivery and are on the frontlines of this battle,” said HRSA Administrator Tom Engels. “Timely access to this funding enables them to expand their ability to continue to provide care while adapting to the unique challenges posed by this pandemic.”

Each hospital is also seeing a different influx of patients and levels of care, not just in treating the virus, that monies received from the grant will be beneficial in helping recoup lost revenues on the hospital’s day-to-day operations.

“With limited access to the hospital for the protection of our patients, staff and visitors, and suspension of non-essential services and programs for now, as per Governor Pritzker’s executive order, the result has been a 50 percent business loss overall. There are areas that are experiencing high volumes, such as the laboratory, in relation to COVID-19 testing,” Olson said.

RCH’s portion of funding will come from the Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program grant category.