Rural hospitals receive funding boost for COVID

More than $2.5 million in federal coronavirus relief funding will be divvied between 10 Hawaii hospitals to support COVID-19 response efforts in rural areas.

The $2,583,760 allocated as part of the American Rescue Plan will be split among 10 rural critical access hospitals that have fewer than 50 beds.


The money will help the hospitals expand COVID-19 testing for people living in rural communities and tailor mitigation efforts to meet local needs, according to a news release from U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, a member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee.

“Families in rural areas across Hawaii rely on local hospitals to get the health care they need in their own communities,” Schatz said. “This new federal funding will support rural hospitals on the frontlines of the pandemic and help more people access COVID-19 testing and other resources close to home to keep themselves, their families and their communities healthy.”

On the Big Island, recipients are Hale Ho‘ola Hamakua in Honokaa and Ka‘u Hospital in Pahala, which are part of the East Hawaii Region of Hawaii Health Systems Corp., Kohala Hospital in Kapaau, which is part of the HHSC West Hawaii Region, and Queen’s North Hawaii Community Hospital in Waimea.

An East Hawaii spokeswoman said it appears the funding is divided equally among the 10 hospitals with allocations totaling $256,376 for each facility.

Rules and guidance on how the money should be spent will come in September, she said.

“This funding is timely as we are starting to see rural areas in the country start to be significantly impacted by COVID,” said Denise Mackey, East Hawaii regional hospital administrator for critical access hospitals and long-term care. “Rural hospitals in Hawaii such as our Hale Ho‘ola Hamakua in Honokaa and Ka‘u Hospital meet the basic needs of their communities. COVID patients require a higher level of care, resources and staff time that our rural hospitals are able to provide. This funding would help our hospitals improve our preparedness to do an initial evaluation of a suspected COVID-positive patient while protecting our patients and staff.”

The federal funding is provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program.


Other Hawaii hospitals receiving allocations include Kahuku Medical Center, Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital, Kula Hospital, Lanai Community Hospital, Molokai General Hospital and Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital.

Email Stephanie Salmons at

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