Springfield Hospital was awarded $1.3 million to become Vermont’s eighth Federally Qualified Health Center providing primary care for residents of southeastern Vermont, Senator Bernie Sanders announced today.“This is a great day for the advance of health care access in Windsor and Windham counties,” said Sanders (I-Vt.). “As a result of this designation for the Springfield Hospital, residents of the area will now be able to receive excellent quality primary health care regardless of income.”In addition, the grant will enable the hospital to expand services to provide access to affordable dental care, mental health counseling and the lowest-cost prescription drugs available in America.It is expected that the two-year grant will make Springfield Hospital the largest Federally Qualified Health Center in Vermont. Six years ago, there were two centers in Vermont. With the addition of Springfield, there will be eight centers. Currently, Vermont health centers and 29 satellite locations provide primary health care to some 82,000 Vermonters, or about one-in-eight residents of the state. With the addition of the Springfield Hospital, that number will go to more than 100,000 patients served. “My hope and expectation is that within the next two years, with the addition of FQHCs in Addison and Bennington counties, there will be at least 10 centers in the state. When this happens, the reality will be that almost every Vermonter, regardless of income, will have access to affordable primary health care,” Sanders said.Springfield Hospital is one of 126 centers around the country which the White House designated today. These designations are the result of the $2 billion for community health centers that was included in the recently-passed economic recovery act. “I want to congratulate Tom Crawford and his staff at Springfield Hospital for submitting a very strong application. They have put a lot of work into this effort and have come a very long way since we first talked about this project about two years ago,” Sanders said.Altogether, President Obama today released $155 million authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that will support 126 new health centers. “We have acted quickly to put recovery act dollars to good use in communities across America,” the president said. “The construction and expansion of health centers will create thousands of new jobs, help provide health care to an estimated 750,000 Americans across the country who wouldn’t have access to care without these centers, and take another step toward an affordable, accessible health care system.”The grants, which are administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration, are expected to create 5,500 jobs at the new health centers. For a list of health centers in Vermont, click here.