Austin-area health care centers receive more than $7 million from CARES Act

(Designed by Mel Stefka/Community Impact Newspaper)
(Designed by Mel Stefka/Community Impact Newspaper)

(Designed by Mel Stefka/Community Impact Newspaper)

Three Austin-area nonprofit health care centers have been awarded federal grants totaling more than $7 million, according to an April 8 news release from the offices of U.S. Senator John Cornyn, R-TX and U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-TX.

Central Health, Travis County’s health care district, has been awarded $3.68 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, according to the news releases.

Ted Burton, vice president of communications for Central Health, said in an email to Community Impact Newspaper that funding is allocated for the Central Health-funded CommUnityCare Health Centers.

CommUnityCare operates 27 locations, with an additional three partner locations, throughout Central Texas, according to the CommUnityCare website.

“CommUnityCare has been advocating directly with [the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services] to have additional monies from the CARES Act provided to health centers in order to enhance [CommUnityCare’s] ability to respond to the coronavirus pandemic,” Burton said in an email to Community Impact Newspaper. “The money will help support capacity within Federally Qualified Health Centers like CommUntiyCare that are experiencing decreased patient demand ... while substantially increasing access to telehealth/telemedicine services”

The $3.68 million grant from the CARES Act can be used by Central Health for a multitude of reasons, Burton said. Central Health will use the federal funds to ensure patient and personnel safety and minimize coronavirus exposure, expand telehealth services and support community education. Funds from the CARES Act grant will further go to purchase health care information technology, telehealth equipment, mobile medical units, vehicles and other supplies.

According to Central Health, a portion of the federal grant funds will also go to restore and sustain health center capacity and staffing levels. That includes hiring or contracting new personnel and reassigning personnel within clinics.

Central Health received the most money from CARES Act out of any health care centers in the Austin area, according to numbers provided by Sen. Cornyn’s office.

Lone Star Circle of Care, which operates more than a dozen clinics across Central Texas, has been awarded $2.47 million in CARES Act funds.

According to a March 26 post on Lone Star Circle of Care’s website, the organization is still offering in-office appointments, as well as expanded telemedicine and video appointments. Lone Star Circle of Care is also offering drive-through coronavirus testing on a limited basis.

In Austin, People’s Community Clinic is receiving a little more than $1 million in federal grant funds from the CARES Act. People’s Community Clinic operates multiple clinics in the Austin area.

Like other local health care centers, People’s Community Clinic has expanded its telemedicine services to respond to the coronavirus situation, according to the organization’s website.
By Iain Oldman
Iain Oldman joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2017 after spending two years in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he covered Pittsburgh City Council. His byline has appeared in PublicSource, WESA-FM and Scranton-Times Tribune. Iain worked as the reporter for Community Impact Newspaper's flagship Round Rock/Pflugerville/Hutto edition and is now working as the editor for the Northwest Austin edition.