San Luis Valley Health Regional Medical Center is converting from semiprivate to private patient rooms, thanks to a USDA grant.

Image courtesy of San Luis Valley Health Regional Medical Center.

San Luis Valley Health Regional Medical Center (SLVH-RMC), Alamosa, Colo., was one of the only facilities in the southern, rural region of the state caring for COVID-19 patients at the onset of the pandemic, according to a hospital official. 

Unfortunately, the task was exacerbated by the fact that patients were being cared for in a facility that was built in the 1960s and only offered semiprivate patient rooms. These rooms are less than ideal for patients with a highly transferable infectious condition.

The good news: A $1 million grant from the Department of Agriculture (USDA) will ensure that SLVH-RMC is better prepared to care for infectious patients in the future. The hospital is using this money to make several improvements, including the renovation of semiprivate rooms into private rooms.

“San Luis Valley Health has desired to provide patients with private rooms for some time. This funding comes as a springboard to start this process so that we can continue to provide excellent health care services to residents,” says Konnie Martin, CEO of SLVH-RMC. 

SLVH-RMC is just one of the 208 rural health care organizations receiving a share of the $110 million that was awarded by the USDA Rural Development program in October 2022. The Emergency Rural Health Care Grant Program is intended to help prepare rural health care organizations for future pandemic events, increase access to quality health care services and improve community health outcomes. 

Similarly, many other grant recipients are using the funds to make facilities improvements that will help them more adeptly manage future pandemics:  

  • Kittson Healthcare, Hallock, Minn., will use a $51,700 grant to build an isolation room for patients with infectious illnesses or those who are susceptible to infections.
  • Toiyabe Indian Health Project Inc., Bishop, Calif., will leverage a $991,240 grant to renovate the main medical building and modular auxiliary building. The project will enable it to more effectively meet medical and mental health needs that have been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.