The federal government will grant the Greater Meridian Health Clinic, Inc. $2,544,875 as part of the recently passed COVID-19 relief bill.

The legislation, named the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, will give more than $6 billion to community health centers in the U.S. According to a White House press release, the funding will be used to expand COVID-19 vaccinations, testing and treatment among vulnerable populations; deliver preventive and primary health care services to people at higher risk of contracting COVID-19; and expand health centers’ operational capacity, including by improving physical infrastructure and adding mobile units.

The Health Resources and Services Administration will provide funding to health centers starting in April, according to the White House. The Greater Meridian Health Clinic, Inc. is one of 1,376 health centers throughout the U.S. receiving funding from this measure.

Wilbert Jones, the CEO of Greater Meridian Health Clinic, Inc., said that he has not yet received the requirements of how the grant can be used. He will learn the stipulations soon, though.

If it is possible, Jones would like to use the funding to offset some of the clinic’s revenue loss from the pandemic.

The health center has lost revenue because the number of patient visits at the clinic has been “tremendously reduced” for the last 12 months, Jones said. People were restricted from leaving their homes or did not feel comfortable doing so. They are starting to come back into the clinic, though.

Jones said the clinic has also had higher operating costs, as it has to comply with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requirements and other guidelines.

In addition to the Meridian site, the clinic has sites in Kemper County, Noxubee County, Winston County and Oktibbeha County. Jones said the funding would be shared among all of these locations.

He said that guiding a health clinic during a pandemic has been challenging.

“It's created a tremendously stressful situation for employees that are providing the care,” he said. “We’re very proud to say that all of the staff has been superheroes in providing the care for and maintaining stability of care.”

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