Rochester, Minn. - Federal COVID relief funds are having a lasting impact in the Rochester area and U.S. Sen. Tina Smith visited the RCTC Heintz Center's Community Health Service Clinic to see what changes are making the biggest difference.
CHSI works to offer health care without discrimination, but given the strain put on families by the pandemic, patients have had a harder time actually making it to the facility.
Medical director Dr. Stephanie Low added, "We try and be a home for our patients and a place where they know they can fall back on in the community and the majority of our patients are very, very grateful for that."
That's where telehealth comes in to play. It's an area that's been expanded through CARES Act funding and Sen. Smith hopes it continues to grow to meet the needs of rural families.
She explained, "What I want to be able to do is make sure that those innovations in telehealth can be made permanent. Of course in the infrastructure package, which I hope we'll be able to pass in the coming months, there's significant resources for the technology, infrastructure and broadband so telehealth is accessible and available to everyone."
CARES Act funding also helped the facility by updating technology such as providing Zoom licenses, getting an online bill pay option, as well as improving vaccine storage.
Executive Director of the facility Kristi Halverson explained, "We take a lot of pride in serving the patients that often nobody else wants to take care of and we appreciate those challenges and are able to do that with the federal assistance we received and the dedicated staff that we have."
Halverson also said becaue of the funding CHSI didn't have to make any staff cuts during the pandemic.
Sen. Smith also visited the Channel One Regional Food Bank to see how the federal funds are still having a positive impact on the facility and community members it serves.