Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

New Report: Broadband Subscription, Computer Access, and Labor Market Attachment Across U.S. Metros

Now more than ever, having a computer at home with high-speed internet is essential to completing basic activities, from distance learning to remote work and job searches. A new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia explores the connection between access to broadband and labor force participation across all U.S. metro areas and finds that:

  • regional levels of broadband subscription, computer access, and poverty are highly correlated.
  • geography matters: Metro areas with low household broadband subscription and computer access were primarily located in the Southeast and Southwest, while high-connectivity regions were concentrated in the Northeast and West Coast.
  • across U.S. metros, prime-age workers (people 25–54) with a broadband-enabled computer participate in the labor force at a much higher rate than prime-age workers without such access.

The research suggests that an “Access Policy” that provides a broadband-enabled computer to unserved metro populations could raise prime-age labor force participation rates. These digital inclusion efforts may have the greatest impact if they target regions with higher levels of poverty or economic insecurity, where computer access and broadband subscription rates often trail other regions.

This report is part of a Research in Action Lab. Conducted in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry and Penn State Extension, the lab will prioritize expanding broadband infrastructure to unserved residents, increasing broadband subscription in low- and moderate-income communities, and developing digital literacy among workers. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia will use its expertise in economic research and community outreach to form a coalition of partners to identify innovative solutions to bridge the digital divide.

For more information about the Philadelphia Fed’s Research in Action Labs, please see “Research in Action Labs: Local Solutions to Economic Problems.”

Read the report.

USDA Invests $955K to Improve Rural Community Facilities and Essential Services in Pennsylvania

Funding will Help Provide Rural Health Care, Emergency Response Services and Long-Term Disaster Recovery

 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Justin Maxson announced that USDA is investing $185 million to equip, rebuild, and modernize essential services in rural areas of 32 states. The investments will benefit 3 million rural residents. In Pennsylvania, USDA is investing a total of $955,730 in 16 projects through the Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant Program.

“The Biden-Harris Administration has made investing in infrastructure improvements a priority,” Maxson said. “These loans and grants will help rural communities invest in facilities and services that are vital to all communities, such as schools, libraries, hospitals and health clinics. They also will help rural communities continue to beat the COVID-19 pandemic as America builds back better and stronger.”

USDA Acting State Director for Rural Development in Pennsylvania Jeremy Wilson said, “These loans and grants help emphasize the fact that USDA is not just here to help farmers and agricultural producers, but the communities where they live.”

Below are descriptions of the projects:

  • Kingston Borough is receiving a $26,500 grant to purchase radios and accessories for their emergency services. This purchase is needed to allow the borough to be compliant with the upgraded system in Lycoming County. Without the new equipment, the borough would not be able to communicate with regional emergency services.
  • Kline Township is receiving a $27,100 grant to purchase a patrol vehicle and equipment for the township’s police department. The township currently uses a 2013 patrol vehicle that is in poor condition, frequently breaks down and needs repair, resulting in loss of services to the community.
  • Benezette Township is receiving a $30,700 grant to purchase a pickup truck for environmental operations and street maintenance. The new truck is needed because the township’s current trucks have plows and spreaders, which don’t allow the maintenance department to address issues such as fallen trees, road repairs and other tasks.
  • Grand Canyon Airport Authority is receiving a $5,100 grant to purchase a self-serve fueling terminal at the Grand Canyon Airport in Wellsboro. The terminal will allow 24/7 fuel access to customers and is essential for a small airport, which cannot sustain 24-hour operations. The 20-year old existing system is incompatible with current and emerging technology and the existing manufacturer is no longer providing software, replacement parts or technical support.
  • Keating Township is receiving a $50,000 loan and $27,400 grant to purchase a dump truck with a snowplow and cinder spreader that will be housed at the township office located in Potter County. The township’s current street maintenance vehicle has numerous mechanical problems that have been costly to repair. A new truck is needed to provide reliable maintenance to the blacktop and gravel roads throughout the township.
  • Montgomery Borough is receiving a $25,600 grant to purchase a mini excavator. This equipment is needed because the borough’s current backhoe is 15 years old and needs repairs. The excavator will allow the borough to provide maintenance to small spaces the backhoe cannot access. With the new equipment in use, the borough will be able to repair its current equipment without any delays in service.
  • Friendship Fire Company is receiving a $330,500 loan and $50,000 grant to purchase a fire truck that will be housed in Port Royal. The fire company currently owns a fire and rescue truck that is too costly to maintain.
  • Youngsville Borough is receiving a $21,200 loan and $25,700 grant to purchase a new patrol vehicle. The borough’s police department currently owns two patrol vehicles; however, one has had significant mechanical issues resulting from a crash in 2019. The new vehicle will allow the police department to provide a more reliable service to the community.
  • Dean Township is receiving a $16,300 loan and $50,000 grant to replace the roof of the township’s facility located in Cambria County. The roof has an active leak and additional damage is expected to be found during the replacement.
  • Citizens Ambulance Services Inc. is receiving a $50,000 grant to purchase 16 stretcher mounting systems, 17 stretcher conversion kits and 22 battery kits for a fleet of 16 ambulances located in Indiana, Pa. The equipment is needed to follow the federal specifications that require any ambulance manufactured after July 1, 2015, to be equipped with the new loading systems. Citizens Ambulance Services Inc. has not purchased new ambulances since that date and have purchased used units with 30,000 to 155,000 miles and refurbished them.
  • Springfield Township is receiving a $43,330 loan to purchase a new maintenance truck. This truck is needed because the township’s current vehicle is 14 years old and nearing the end of its useful life. The new truck will enable the township to plow snow and haul tools and materials to job sites.
  • Selinsgrove Borough is receiving a $50,000 grant to purchase a new patrol car and leaf loader. The new patrol vehicle will allow the police department to service the borough and provide a safer environment for the community, while the new leaf loader will allow the borough to maintain the roadways.
  • Avenues, located in Pottsville, is receiving a $17,000 grant to replace the facility’s original boiler. The new boiler is situated within the existing area of the old boiler on the existing slab. The existing facility is the applicant’s point of service site. The facility’s boiler was approximately 48 years old. Avenues provides human services to individuals with developmental and acquired disabilities.
  • Mount Union Borough is receiving a $12,800 loan and $40,000 grant to purchase a new pickup truck. The vehicle will be used by the Water and Sewer Department to provide maintenance on the reservoir and wells in the area. The existing pickup is too costly to maintain.
  • Fulton County Library is receiving a $18,800 grant for facility renovations. The project includes repainting interior walls and trim, repainting exterior walls with the stucco and block being primed and redone. The security system will be upgraded, and four additional cameras will be added.
  • East Pittsburgh Borough is receiving a $37,700 grant to purchase a new skid steer loader. The borough does not own a skid steer and instead rents equipment from neighboring municipalities. The new equipment will allow the borough to perform routine maintenance on roads and public areas.

More than 100 types of projects are eligible for Community Facilities funding. Eligible applicants include municipalities, public bodies, nonprofit organizations and federally recognized Native American tribes. Projects must be in rural areas with a population of 20,000 or less.

To learn more about Community Facilities Program funding opportunities, contact a USDA Rural Development state office. Also see the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program Guidance Book for Applicants (PDF, 669 KB) for a detailed overview of the application process.

Under the Biden-Harris Administration, Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit

New Report: Community Impact and Benefit Activities of CAHs, Other Rural, and Urban Hospitals

The Flex Monitoring Team has released a new report on the community impact and benefit activities of Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs), rural non-CAHs, and urban hospitals. The report enables State Flex Programs and CAH administrators to compare the community impact and benefit profiles of CAHs nationally to the performance of CAHs in their state.

The national report and state-specific reports can be found on the Flex Monitoring Team website.

Broadband Infrastructure FAQs: Treasury Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds

NTIA/Broadband USA  wants to provide updates on the progress of the US Department of Treasury’s Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds’ Interim Final Rule (IFR). Treasury has recently issued FAQs that can be found at this link on the broadband provision of the IFR.

Per the US Department of Treasury, this FAQ update provides answers to questions raised by a number of stakeholders on eligible areas for broadband infrastructure investment. The update clarifies that states and localities may invest in areas where not all households or businesses are unserved or underserved, as long as an objective of the project is to provide service to unserved or underserved households or businesses. Further, it clarifies that the use of “reliably” in the broadband provision of the IFR provides states and localities with significant discretion to assess the actual experience of users on the ground.

Specifically, the FAQ update addresses the following questions:

  • For broadband infrastructure investments, what does the requirement that infrastructure “be designed to” provide service to unserved or underserved households and businesses mean?
  • For broadband infrastructure to provide service to “unserved or underserved households or businesses,” must every house or business in the service area be unserved or underserved?
  • For broadband infrastructure investments, what does the requirement to “reliably” meet or exceed a broadband speed threshold mean?
  • May recipients use payments from the Funds for “middle mile” broadband projects?

Treasury regularly updates FAQs to provide further clarification on the IFR, and is committed to responding expeditiously to questions and concerns. They also encourage interested stakeholders to submit comments for the record to ensure that their perspectives are reflected in the public comments during the 60-day public comment period on the IFR. These comments will be considered as part of the process for revising the rule.

As a reminder, BroadbandUSA collects information on more than 80 federal programs across 14 federal agencies, including the US Department of Treasury, whose funding can be used for broadband-related purposes. You can visit this comprehensive “one-stop shop” for broadband resources here: Federal Funding | BroadbandUSA (

FCC Announces Funds to Support Eligible Schools and Libraries

From June 29, 2021 to August 13, 2021, eligible schools and libraries can apply for financial support to purchase connected devices like laptops and tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and broadband connectivity to meet unmet needs for off-campus use by students, school staff, and library patrons during the COVID-19 emergency period.  During this application filing window, eligible schools and libraries, in addition to consortia of schools and libraries, can submit requests for funding to purchase eligible equipment and services between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022.

You can view an FCC Fact Sheet on the program by visiting:

Federal Rural Health Network Development Planning Program Awardees Announced

The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) awarded approximately $1.9 million to twenty awardees for the 2021 Rural Health Network Development Planning (Network Planning) Program. The Network Planning program, administered by HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) focuses on the planning and development of integrated health care networks, specifically network participants who do not have a history of formal collaborative efforts in order to (i) achieve efficiencies; (ii) expand access to, coordinate, and improve the quality of essential health care services; and (iii) strengthen the rural health care system as a whole. The intent is that rural health networks, comprised of both rural and urban organizations, will expand access to care, increase the use of health information technology, explore alternative health care delivery models, and continue to achieve quality health care across the continuum of care.

Recipients from 16 states received up to $100,000 for a one-year project period that will focus on building, strengthening, and formalizing integrated health care networks and systems, coordinating service delivery, conducting community health needs assessments, and increasing service capacity.

The list of awardees can be viewed here.

With FORHP support, these organizations will work towards becoming operational and sustainable beyond the one-year project period, achieving long-term outcomes such as coordinating care, addressing behavioral health conditions, establishing services for the elderly, and managing community impacts and responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. These value-added services will ultimately create incentives to develop regional systems of care that preserve local autonomy for rural communities, while also ensuring access to the appropriate continuum of care for the local service population. These funded organizations are helping to change how health care is being delivered in rural communities.

Spotlight: YMCA and Pennie Health Equity Tour in Pennsylvania

The YMCA and Pennie are conducting a Pennsylvania Health Equity Tour in 2021. The tour is a series of in-person events throughout the 67 counties in Pennsylvania focused on access to health resources. The 12-month tour aims to promote the YMCA evidence-based chronic disease management programs. During the tour, the YMCA staff is distributing educational materials about COVID-19, oral health and water fluoridation, the harmful effects of tobacco use and vaping, and more. The PA Coalition for Oral Health and Healthy Teeth Healthy Children contributed the oral health materials including oral health story kits, drink acidity testing kits, and children’s books about oral health. Be sure to check it out when the tour comes to a YMCA near you!

Click here to see upcoming dates and stops.
Click here for more information.
Click here to see the Facebook page.

Telehealth Patient Resource Available in 6 New Languages

The Coverage to Care (C2C) patient resource, Telehealth: What to Know for Your Family, is now available in 6 additional languages: ArabicChinese, Haitian CreoleKoreanRussian, and Vietnamese.

These translations are available for download at

Released earlier this year in English and Spanish, Telehealth: What to Know for Your Family helps patients learn about:

  • Types of care they can receive through telehealth
  • How to prepare for an appointment
  • What to expect during a telehealth visit

More COVID-19 resources are available in multiple languages at and

We encourage you to share these resources to help everyone remain healthy during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Want to receive updates on C2C? Subscribe to the C2C listservTo learn more or download C2C resources, please visit or email

Equipment Support for Free Health Clinics Available

Family Medicine Cares USA, an initiative of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) Foundation, is awarding grants of up to $25,000 to be used for the purchase of durable, sustainable equipment and instruments necessary for diagnosis and treatment related to primary care. Applicant clinics must have opened or be open within six months of the application deadline date, have completed or be in the process of completing the Volunteers in Medicine America new clinic development process, and have an AAFP member who maintains active, ongoing involvement with patient care at the clinic. The application deadline is July 15th.

Click here for more information and to apply.

Dental Caries Among the Geriatric Population

Scientists have long speculated about the prevalence of dental caries and their potential long-term risk factors among the geriatric population. Recently, the topic was further explored in an article titled, “Caries disease among an elderly population — A 10-year longitudinal study.” The piece was published in the International Journal of Dental Hygiene earlier this month.

Click here to read the article.