AUSTIN, Texas (CBSFW.COM) – Rural hospitals and nursing facilities that have experienced staffing shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic are getting some much needed financial help.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission is providing $128 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding to rural hospitals and nursing facilities to support health care providers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Greg Abbott’s Office announced Thursday, Dec. 16.

Funds for the grant programs were authorized as part of Senate Bill 8 during Texas’ third Special Session.

The funds will pay for critical staffing needs in rural hospitals and in nursing facilities throughout the state.

“This funding will provide vital support to rural hospitals, nursing facilities, and other health care providers across the state who continue working tirelessly to combat COVID-19,” said Governor Abbott in a statement. “We are grateful for the continued efforts of our health care professionals who compassionately serve their fellow Texans.”

“Health care providers have worked tirelessly to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and these grant programs will help them fill critical gaps in their workforce as they continue to serve vulnerable Texans,” said HHSC Chief Financial Officer Trey Wood in a statement.

HHSC is distributing approximately $90 million to Texas nursing facilities with an active license as of November 8, 2021 under the Nursing Facility COVID-19 in Healthcare Relief Grant (NF-CHRG) program.

Each eligible facility will receive $75,000. The grant can be used for critical staffing needs, such as for bonuses and employing contracted staff.

The agency is also distributing approximately $38 million or $250,000 to each eligible rural hospital under the Rural Hospital COVID-19 in Healthcare Relief Grant (RH-CHRG) program.

The funds are discretionary and can be used by rural hospitals to support staffing, infrastructure, or revenue losses related to the pandemic. Staff