Gov. Bill Ritter announced today that the Colorado Rural Health Care Grant Council has awarded just over $1.9 million in its inaugural round of grants to strengthen health care delivery in Colorado's rural communities.

"As we continue toward our goal of providing access to high quality, affordable health care to all Coloradans, it is critical that we support our rural communities," said Ritter. "I am thrilled to announce this first round of grants, which will make an immediate and significant impact in improving access to and quality of care from Alamosa to Yuma."

The Council awarded 52 grants ranging from $1,600 to $50,000 to health care providers in 34 Colorado counties for infrastructure projects.

Grantees include Federally Qualified Health Centers, rural hospitals, public health departments, public and private health clinics, and school-based health centers. The grants will support construction and remodeling projects, equipment and supplies, staff training, transportation and health information technology. See attached list of grantees for complete details.

"UnitedHealthcare is committed to investing in a healthier Colorado and expanding quality health care services to rural communities throughout the state," said Beth Soberg CEO, UnitedHealthcare of Colorado. "We do this by offering products and services that address access to affordable health care for all Coloradans, and also through grants to diverse community health organizations statewide that will help improve the health care delivery system for everyone, including underserved populations."

The Colorado Rural Health Care Grant Program was established in August 2007 and is funded with a $7.5 million gift to the State of Colorado from UnitedHealthcare, which will be distributed over six years.