U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressman David Cicilline and Jim Langevin announced Tuesday $11,615,456 in federal funding to strengthen the state’s public health workforce and improve critical public health infrastructure. The federal funding, administered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was made possible by the American Rescue Plan Act, which all four members of the state’s Congressional delegation helped pass last year.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused extraordinary challenges for our nation’s public health system and put a spotlight on longstanding gaps in public health preparedness. These federal funds are designed to ensure that public health departments across the country have the people, services, and systems they need to protect and promote public health. These flexible funds will support state and local health departments like the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and will last five years.
“This federal funding will help hire more frontline community health workers and improve public health,” said Senator Reed. “I will continue working to deliver federal funds to strengthen our public health workforce and infrastructure to ensure Rhode Island’s health system is well-prepared to respond to any future health threat.”
“The pandemic exposed gaps in our health care system and put huge strain on professionals in every corner of the medical field,” said Senator Whitehouse. “We are delivering more resources to strengthen the state’s public health workforce, improve health data sharing, and ultimately, provide better care for Rhode Islanders.”
“As our nation continues to battle COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, we must double down on our public health investments to ensure that Rhode Islanders remain safe and healthy,” said Rep. Jim Langevin. “I was proud to support the American Rescue Plan Act, which is delivering millions of dollars in federal funding to expand our public health workforce and infrastructure.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the inequities and shortfalls of our nation’s public health systems and the support our public health departments and providers need to best care for Rhode Islanders,” said Congressman Cicilline. “Now, we need to take the lessons learned over the last two-plus years and build a stronger, better prepared public health system that will not only be able to care for Rhode Islanders but also provide the necessary and much-deserved support to our frontline health workers. I will continue to work with my colleagues to continue to deliver federal funds and additional support to keep us all safe and healthy.”
Over a five-year period, the flexible funding may be used to:
- Recruit, hire, train, and retain diverse public health staff, such as community health workers, epidemiologists, contact tracers, laboratory scientists, and data analysts, to reduce public health workforce shortages;
- Build foundational capabilities through strengthened community partnerships that enhance communication and policy development; and
- Increase availability of public health data through improved data infrastructure and interoperability.
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