An investment of nearly $1 billion will help modernize 1,292 Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) health center program-funded health centers across the United States, according to an October 2021 announcement from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The funding will be used to support major healthcare construction and renovation projects and strengthen the country’s healthcare infrastructure.

The funding comes from the American Rescue Plan through HRSA to help health centers that serve medically underserved and other vulnerable populations and communities disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 coronavirus cover COVID-19–related capital needs, constructing new facilities, renovating and expanding existing facilities, and purchasing new state-of-the-art equipment, including telehealth technology, mobile medical vans, and freezers to store vaccines.

“HRSA-funded health centers play a vital role in the local community response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” HRSA Acting Administrator Diana Espinosa said. “Investing in health center construction and modernization will significantly increase access to affordable, high-quality primary health care services in underserved communities across the nation.”

According to HHS, “more than 91% of health center patients are individuals or families living at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines and nearly 63% are racial/ethnic minorities.” By providing funding to help launch these new initiatives, HHS said these facilities can ensure that these communities have a greater opportunity to get the care they need, no matter their diagnosis.

“Health centers are lifelines for many of our most vulnerable families across the country, especially amidst the pandemic,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said. “Thanks to American Rescue Plan funds, we’re modernizing facilities across the country to better meet the most pressing public health challenges associated with COVID-19. This historic investment means we get to expand access to care for COVID-19 testing, treatment and vaccination—all with an eye toward advancing equity.”