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UCFS receives second federal grant to respond to COVID-19

Norwich — For the second time in the past week, United Community and Family Services has received a federal grant to help the community health care agency respond to the COVID-19 emergency.

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, announced Tuesday that UCFS will receive $839,795 from the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act, with the funding to be awarded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Generations Family Health Center in Willimantic also received $871,430 through the program.

In a news release announcing the grants, Courtney said the funding will “help make sure that health care professionals — our front line in the fight against COVID-19 — have the tools and resources they need to win.”

The funding can be used to train staff on infection control procedures, conduct additional testing and communitywide prevention efforts. The grant provides one-time funding to support health centers to prevent, prepare for and respond to COVID-19, Courtney’s release said.

Jennifer Granger, UCFS president and CEO, said Tuesday she was “thrilled” to receive the federal support. She said UCFS will work with other health care providers and officials in the region, including Backus Hospital and Uncas Health District, on best uses for the funding.

“There are so many things we could do that will be valuable to the community,” Granger said. “I’m very excited about it. We haven’t had a chance to sit and really plan how best to use those resources.”

Possible uses could include expanding telehealth services to enroll patients in online patient portals to create electronic health records. Granger said UCFS also hopes to enhance connections to other health care institutions in the region. UCFS also could improve telephone capacity with the grant.

“And getting supplies and (personal protective equipment),” Granger said. “That’s always a challenge.”

Last week, UCFS received a $63,751 grant from a different federal program through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to purchase equipment, such as telephones and laptops, for staff to conduct telehealth checks with patients.

c.bessette@theday.com

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