Marshall County was among several in Iowa to receive millions in American Rescue Plan funding.
Specifically, the funding went to UnityPoint Health-Marshalltown and Mid-Iowa Community Action (MICA), both based in Marshalltown, to help them meet community needs and recover from difficulties and setbacks they faced because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
UnityPoint Health-Marshalltown was awarded $396,232 for vaccine confidence as part of a program to promote vaccines in rural areas. The funding started July 17, 2021, and ends June 30.
Milda Mullesch, the regional accountable care and population health program director for the region, said the amount was based on the eight locations in the region. It was awarded based on a grant UnityPoint Health-Marshalltown applied for.
Funds are supposed to be used to educate people about vaccines, both for COVID and other infectious diseases, so more people decide to be vaccinated, according to the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA).
“This grant allows us to promote the safety and effectiveness of all vaccines, not just those used against COVID-19,” Mullesch said. “For instance, we promoted both the COVID-19 and influenza vaccines over the winter. The grant also gave us an opportunity to collaborate with the impacted county departments of health, as each of them vary somewhat in what is needed or wanted.”
She said their next concept involves promoting longtime, successful vaccines for MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), Hepatitis, and DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis).
“It has been very important,” Mullesch said. “With regard to COVID-19, the vaccines that have been used around the world have proven to be safe and effective. So, anything that would help us promote that message to our communities and help flatten the curve and keep people healthy, is most welcome.”
She said they offered $100 gift cards for completing the vaccine and that seemed to work really well.
“We’re confident that getting this message in front of many people in a multitude of mediums has helped our communities boost the number of people who have been protected through vaccines of all types,” Mullesch said.
MICA, a private, nonprofit organization serving children and families, was awarded $425,281 for Head Start programming. Head Start provides educational activities, some free medical and dental care, healthy meals and snacks, and opportunities to play inside and outside for low-income children.
The funding goes from April 1, 2021, to March 31, 2023.
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the funds are to bolster Head Start services including offering more weeks of programming, supporting the enrolled children and families, hiring additional staff, and improving the facilities and spaces.
The American Rescue Plan was signed by President Joe Biden in March 2021. The legislation was created to help America recover from the COVID-19 pandemic by funding projects and services to help America’s economy, public health, businesses, and individuals.
Fourteen Iowa health centers received funding from the American Rescue Plan. Others were in Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, Davenport, Des Moines, Dubuque, Fort Dodge, Leon, Sioux Center, Sioux City, Storm Lake, Waterloo, and West Burlington.