DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD)- Dorchester County has received one million dollars in grant funding to improve rural healthcare, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday.

According to the county, the funding will be used to broaden access to COVID-19 testing and vaccines, wellness services, lab work, radiology, and telemedicine in the western end of the county, specifically the St. George community.

In order to do so, the funds will be put toward renovations needed to convert the former female detention center into an urgent care facility that is expected to open by the end of 2023.

“After hosting community discussions and sending out a survey to the healthcare providers in the rural area, the county identified a viable space that would provide access to medical services not currently offered in the St. George area,” a county spokesperson said. “We are grateful to be awarded this $1 million Emergency Rural Health Care grant to supplement the matched $1.5 million ARPA funds approved by County Council.”

The funding is part of a larger investment by the Biden-Harris Administration to expand healthcare in rural communities. This round of funding through the Emergency Rural Health Care Grants Program is expected to help nearly 5 million people in 43 states and Guam.

“Access to modern and sustainable health care infrastructure is critical to the health, well-being and prosperity for the millions of people who live in rural and Tribal communities,” Rural Development Under Secretary Xochitl Torres Small said. “That’s why the Biden-Harris Administration remains committed to making sure that people who need it most, no matter where they live, have access to high-quality and reliable health care services like urgent care, primary care and dental care.”