FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – It was announced Friday that Benton County and UAMS will be receiving a $4 million grant to provide health care to under severed communities.  

The $4 million grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services is part of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriation Act. 

Dr. Pearl McElfish with UAMS says the goal of allocating this money will be to serve the hardest-hit communities. 

“In Northwest Arkansas, it is often Marshallese and Hispanic communities, but it’s also rural communities,” said McElfish.   

UAMS will be working alongside the Northwest Arkansas Council’s Health Care Transformation Division and Washington County to provide the services themselves. 

County Judge Barry Moehring said Benton County has been working on the business side of this grant for several weeks now. 

“What this will do is it will start to put in place those measures today that will help us prevent the situation we had last year from happening again. So I feel very good about it and I am very grateful for UAMS,” said Moehring. 

Money that McElfish said came at the right time.  

“This will allow us to continue many of the efforts that were initially funded by the Cares Act funding, but that money runs out in five days, so the timing is really perfect,” said McElfish

Even though this grant is expected to fund pandemic-related health needs through 2023, Moehring says that they will not hesitate to act on them if there are any other opportunities out there.  

“We feel a strong obligation to find these sort of grant opportunities and to bring them to our public. I don’t want to make it sound like we need to get our fair share, but we need to be aggressive in pursuing these grant opportunities. Particularly one that will address situations like this,” said Moehring. 

McElfish said whether its vaccinations or just general pandemic-related healthcare, more than half of the $4 million will be divided among different local health partners to ensure an equal reach in the community.