BROWNS MILLS, N.J., Feb. 24, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Farah Ahmad, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development today announced a $1 million Emergency Rural Health Care (ERHC) grant for Deborah Heart and Lung Center. The grant will allow Deborah, the region’s only heart, lung, and vascular specialty hospital, to fortify its resources for the next pandemic response and transform the future of healthcare by equipping its patient rooms to meet the critical care standards necessary for treating very ill or highly infectious patients.
New Jersey Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli, RN, BSN, MA, along with other state and local dignitaries, joined Deputy Under Secretary Ahmad during the announcement, which also included a $550,800 grant for Shore Medical Center.
Deborah Heart and Lung Center is located in a federally-designated, medically underserved rural area in northwestern Burlington County. The hospital, celebrating more than 100 years of a mission to provide access to all regardless of ability to pay, serves a key role, providing access to high quality specialty care for residents in Burlington, Ocean, Mercer and surrounding counties. During Covid-19, Deborah provided nearly 9,000 vaccinations at its clinic, and opened one of the first Post-Covid Recovery Clinics in the tristate area. According to the USDA, nearly 800,000 rural residents fall within Deborah’s service area.
In addition to the grant announcement, Ms. Ahmad toured Deborah’s $108 million construction expansion project, financed by USDA Rural Development with an $88 million Community Facilities Loan and $10 million Community Facilities Loan Guarantee. The project, due to be completed in spring 2024, includes two new floors of private, critical care-level patient rooms, a staff respite area, and mechanical space. The project also includes renovation work which will allow Deborah to upgrade existing patient rooms to include the same state-of-the-art features provided in the new floors, create a new pharmacy clean-room, and allow for additional upgrades to the cardiac catheterization and electrophysiology labs.
“Having access to quality health care is an important part of USDA’s commitment to ensuring that people living in rural areas have every opportunity to succeed – and that they can find those opportunities close to home,” Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary Ahmad said. “The investment we’re announcing here in New Jersey demonstrates how the Biden-Harris Administration is partnering with rural people to make sure rural communities can continue to access essential health care services for years to come.”
“We are grateful for this $1 million grant from the USDA,” said Joseph Chirichella, President and CEO of Deborah Heart and Lung Center. “As a rural hospital and the only specialty heart, lung and vascular hospital in the region, we serve as a critical resource for our community. Given our location, the residents in our area often have difficulty accessing specialty care without travelling long distances. This investment in our campus will help to broaden that access and do so in a way that is forward thinking and pandemic-ready.”
USDA Rural Development State Director Jane Asselta said, “President Biden recently announced that on May 11 he will end the Covid-19 national emergency and public health emergency declarations. The past nearly three years have taught us of the critical need to invest in our rural healthcare infrastructure and of the impact that accessible, quality health care has on the well- being of our neighbors living in small towns.”
She added, “The USDA Rural Development New Jersey team is proud to continue to invest in and support the work of the employees at Deborah in their mission of providing outstanding care to those that come through their doors. And we are thrilled to make our first investment in Shore Medical Center and support their dedicated staff in their pursuit of providing the highest quality of care for their patients from the Atlantic County region.”
SOURCE Deborah Heart and Lung Center