Each year during National Hospital Week, communities across America come together to celebrate the workers and institutions that dedicate themselves to maintaining public health. This year, we’re even more aware of the sacrifices these people and businesses make, especially in times of crisis.

In many of Oregon’s hometowns and throughout our nation, hospitals and health institutions are community pillars. Often, 20% of a rural community’s economy is directly tied to a local hospital. Many of these businesses already operate within tight financial margins, and a recent loss of revenue due to the virus has stretched already-thin budgets to their breaking point.

As a result, communities are faced with the threat of losing local health institutions, which will result in families driving additional hours for mandatory health needs and jobs disappearing from our hometowns.

As part of the Payment Protection Program (PPP), the U.S. Small Business Administration has taken unprecedented action to extend an economic lifeline to Oregon’s rural health businesses and workers. By making nonprofit hospitals eligible for forgivable loans — leveraged through the power of private vendors — the SBA is providing the capital and certainty health organizations need to retain employees and continue services.

More help is available, too. Thanks to President Trump’s and Congress’ strong advocacy for small businesses, there is still more than $100 billion in assistance still available for Oregon’s rural businesses, health care providers, farmers, ranchers, nonprofits, and faith-based groups. These funds are critical to retaining employees, aiding payments on essential bills, and reducing economic injury.

During this National Hospital Week, we are reminded that America’s hospitals and businesses have the grit and tenacity that make them strong. As we all weather this storm, the SBA will continue using all available resources to clear hurdles for Oregon’s hospitals and business owners. For additional information, visit www.sba.gov/paycheckprotection.

— Dan Nordberg is the Director of Rural Affairs for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and Jeremy Field is the Regional Administrator for the Pacific Northwest Region which serves Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska. The SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small businesses with resources to start, grow, expand or recover.

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