JACKSON, Miss (WJTV) – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), awarded $1,244,500 in American Rescue Plan funding to 19 community health centers in Mississippi.

Leaders said the funds will be used to advance health equity through better data collection and reporting.

“We have prioritized advancing equity in our COVID-19 response and throughout all of our work,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Community health centers have played a pivotal role in the nation’s COVID-19 response, and now serve more than 30 million people across the country. Today’s investments will help ensure that all patients have equitable access to the high-quality health care they deserve.”

According to the HHS, the funding will support a data modernization effort aimed at better identifying and responding to the specific needs of patients and communities through improved data quality; advancing COVID-19 response, mitigation, and recovery efforts; and helping prepare for future public health emergencies.

“Time and again, the COVID pandemic has demonstrated the vital role of trusted community leaders in delivering health care services,” said HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson. “Health centers are that trusted resource in the highest risk and hardest hit communities in the country.  As we recognize the heroic work of the frontline health care workers who make health centers what they are, today we also are investing in the tools they need to help them continue to best serve their communities.”

The nearly 1,400 HRSA-funded community health centers in this country serve as a national source of primary care in underserved communities. They are community-based and patient-directed organizations that deliver affordable, accessible, and high-quality medical, dental, and behavioral health services to more than 30 million patients each year, with specific initiatives intended to reach people experiencing homelessness, agricultural workers, and residents of public housing.

Click here to learn more about the Health Center program.