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North Dakota's rural hospitals could see CARES Act dollars administered through UND

GRAND FORKS — North Dakota’s 36 critical-access rural hospitals could soon see some much-needed funds through the federal CARES Act.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded just over $3 million to the University of North Dakota to fund the Coronavirus State Hospital Improvement Program at UND.

Brad Gibbens, acting director of the Center for Rural Health at UND, said the Center for Rural Health and UND will be administering the funds to rural hospitals in the state. Each hospital will get roughly $71,000, which is a “fair amount of money,” Gibbens said.

There are three different areas the funds can go to, Gibbens said. The first is patient and staff safety. This includes equipment and testing, including purchasing personal protective equipment and the cleaning of N95 masks. It could also include costs associated with testing and COVID-19 lab work.

The second area includes the detection, prevention, diagnosing and treating of COVID-19. Gibbens said this might include using the money to set up drive-thru testing, enhancing telehealth, doing community education and other related activities.

The final area the money can go toward is quite broad, Gibbens said. It includes maintaining hospital operations, which can include help with personnel salaries, using it for paid leave for staff who may have been exposed to the virus, among other areas.

“Overall, it's pretty broad, which is good,” he said. “It's what we wanted.”

The funds comes as part of a nearly $165 million investment by HHS into rural hospitals across the nation to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic in rural communities, a release from Sen. Kevin Cramer's office said Wednesday, April 22.

“Today’s funds will assist rural hospitals in North Dakota as they continue to provide quality care during the COVID-19 pandemic, and are important resources that will help support our rural health care providers as well as the patients and communities they serve,” Sen. John Hoeven said in a statement.

Sydney Mook

Sydney Mook has been covering higher education at the Grand Forks Herald since May 2018. She previously served as the multimedia editor and cops, courts and health reporter at the Dickinson Press from January 2016 to May 2018.  She graduated from the University of South Dakota with a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science in three and half years in December 2015. While at the USD, she worked for the campus newspaper, The Volante, as well as the television news show, Coyote News. She also interned at South Dakota Public Broadcasting and spent the summer before her senior year interning in Fort Knox for the ROTC Cadet Summer Training program. In her spare time, Sydney enjoys cheering on the New York Yankees and the Kentucky Wildcats, as well as playing golf. If you've got an idea for a video be sure to give her a call!

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