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A Regional, Rural Northeast Kansas Hospital Celebrates the Completion of State-of-the-Art Facility

RD State Director Patty Clark participating in the ribbon-cutting ceremony

On August 30, 2015 Community Hospital District No. 1 in Onaga, Kan., celebrated the completion of a 45,000 square-foot expansion and renovation hospital project. State Director Patty Clark participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the facility, which is USDA Rural Development in Kansas’ largest financed health care project.

What began as an individual physician medical practice in 1859 in the small rural community of Onaga, Kan., has grown into a regional healthcare system spanning 10,000 square miles in three counties in northeast Kansas.  The vision for this regional system was seeded by dedicated doctors, nurses, and hospital staff and guided to fruition by a series of forward-thinking hospital administrators and board members.

Last month, Community HealthCare System (CHCS) took another step forward and cut the ribbon on their new hospital/hospital renovation project in Onaga.  The project was financed through a $17.59 million Community Facilities direct loan from USDA Rural Development and a companion $2 million USDA Rural Economic Development Loan from Bluestem Electric Cooperative. Read more »

Building Technology that Supports Organic Integrity

Representatives of the database development team

Representatives of the database development team (from left to right) are: Jennifer Tucker (USDA), Indu Shekhar (Harmonia), Aleksey Gasnikov (Harmonia), Dirk Otto (Intact), Manisha Amdiyala (Harmonia), Stacy Swartwood (USDA), Swathy Mudhagouni (Harmonia), Kristin Tensuan (USDA), and Thomas Lorber (Intact).

If you have accessed the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) list of certified organic operations recently, you may have noticed a new look to the site, and new ways to search for organic operations.  These changes reflect an early release of the Organic INTEGRITY Database, a system funded by the 2014 Farm Bill and built by the AMS National Organic Program and Information Technology Service with support from Intact and Harmonia Holdings Group.  

The changes you see on the site are only a small part of the database development project.  For example, underlying the new site is a brand new classification system (or taxonomy) for categorizing products that carry USDA organic certification. Previously, organic certifiers reporting farm and business information to USDA submitted a single text list of certified products for each operation.  Certifiers reported data differently and there was no method to catch spelling or spacing problems. For example, one listing included the item “grapechickenapples.” An interesting appetizer or, a big data quality problem! Read more »

A New Day for Healthcare in Livingston, Montana

Dr. Laurel Desnick of Livingston HealthCare, Dr. Nick Wolter of Billings Clinic, and Livingston Hospital Board Chair Michelle Becker cutting the ribbon

Dr. Laurel Desnick of Livingston HealthCare, Dr. Nick Wolter of Billings Clinic, and Livingston Hospital Board Chair Michelle Becker cut the ribbon on the brand new Livingston HealthCare Hospital in Livingston, Montana.

When the first patient was admitted to the newly constructed Livingston HealthCare Hospital in late October, it marked a new era in state-of-the-art care for residents of Park County, Montana. The new critical care center boasts a Level IV Trauma Center with heli-pad, twenty-five beds, and 125,000 square feet to provide modern, high quality health care services to the over 15,000 people in the region.

And it’s happening none too soon.

Read more »

Agriculture Is a New Mission for a U.S. Marine Veteran

Michael McCarthy working with clams

Michael McCarthy used an FSA Microloan to help expand his clam business.

Raising clams was always a part of Michael McCarthy’s life — until Sept. 11, 2001.

McCarthy was working with the New York/New Jersey Harbor relay program, purging and harvesting clams, when terrorists crashed two airplanes into the World Trade Center. “You could look across the water and see the towers. That was my motivation. We were shut down for a couple of weeks and that’s when I decided to join the Marines. I knew I wasn’t going to do it for the rest of my life, but I felt like I did something to help a little bit.” Read more »

Investing in a Healthy Rural America

Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Vernita Dore at Richland Mall near Avita Health System sign

Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Vernita Dore reveals the largest Community Facilities loan ever obligated in the history of Ohio Rural Development - $91.4 million – to community members attending a groundbreaking ceremony at Richland Mall. Dore was on hand to inaugurate new construction in Avita Health System's ongoing effort to convert the former Lazarus Department Store into a full-service hospital. (USDA photo)

Imagine for a moment what it must be like to get injured in an accident, or have a heart attack or stroke, and have the nearest medical facility be an hour’s ambulance ride away – and that’s after the ambulance from thirty miles away gets to you.

That’s an unfortunate reality faced by many rural Americans, where the miles between critical care centers can reach into the triple digits. USDA Rural Development is working to change that reality. Read more »

New Handbook Highlights Resources for Conservation on Organic Farms

National Organic Farming Handbook cover

A new Handbook supports NRCS conservation planners and other agricultural professionals as they work with organic producers.

Consumer demand for organic products continues to grow. The Organic Trade Association that represents more than 8,500 organic businesses across 50 states reports that demand for organic products exceeded $39 billion in 2014. To meet that demand, more farmers and ranchers are pursuing organic certification and seeking assistance through USDA programs.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is making sure that its people in the field are prepared to work with organic producers and those who want to get into organics. The agency has just released to staff its new Organic Farming Handbook describing things they need to know when working with organic producers. Read more »