Several health centers in the Greater Houston area including the Matagorda Episcopal Health Outreach Program Corporation (MEHOP), were awarded a total of $7,424,127 in another round of federal grants to help expand the range of testing and testing-related activities with respect to the novel coronavirus. The funding, which was appropriated by Congress last month, comes through the Department of Health and Human Services.
"Community Health Centers were created to serve those most vulnerable. MEHOP has been proud to be designated a community health center since 2009. With the COVID-19 Pandemic, MEHOP, like all Community Health Centers, has been on the frontlines ensuring access to health care services in the communities that need them most,” said Celeste Harrison, MEHOP CEO. “Rural communities are many times at a disadvantage when it comes to healthcare, but through the efforts of Community Health Centers like MEHOP, we are able to evolve quickly to address the current needs of the communities we serve.
"Currently, ensuring access to testing and contact tracing to contain COVID-19 is a priority not only in Texas, but across the country,” said Harrison. “The support and funding received from HHS will allow us to acquire the needed resources and implement measures to expand testing for COVID-19 in Bay City, Palacios and Wharton. We are honored to assist the community in our collective response to this pandemic."
U.S. Senator John Cornyn also supported the second round of federal grants for the COVID-19 testing.
“In order to most effectively combat the spread of this dangerous virus in Texas, our health centers must be equipped to test for COVID-19 efficiently,” said Cornyn. “I’m thankful to the Trump Administration for further expanding access to testing in the Houston area.”
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), awarded nearly $583 million to 1,385 HRSA-funded health centers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and eight U.S. territories to expand COVID-19 testing. Nearly 88 percent of HRSA-funded health centers report testing patients, with more than 65 percent offering walk-up or drive-up testing. Health centers are currently providing more than 100,000 weekly COVID-19 tests in their local communities.
The funding for health centers is part of the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, signed into law by President Trump on April 24th. The legislation provides funding for small businesses and individuals financially affected by COVID-19, additional funding for hospitals and healthcare providers, and increased testing capabilities to help track the spread and impact of the coronavirus.
“This new funding secured by President Trump will expand the work health centers are doing to test Americans for COVID-19,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “Widespread testing is a critical step in reopening America, and health centers are vital to making testing easily accessible, especially for under served and minority populations.