Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Good stuff happening in the countryside

There is a tendency for those of us associated with urban and suburban medical centers to forget the many dedicated people serving the public in rural areas, often where there are high poverty levels.  One such group are the folks at the Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (serving northwest North Carolina and northeast Tennessee) who run the Appalachian Healthcare Project.  Here is a description:

Appalachian Healthcare Project is a collaborative effort of the medical community to provide healthcare for the low income, uninsured residents in Watauga and Avery Counties. The project enrolls persons who meet program guidelines and coordinates healthcare on their behalf. The coordination of healthcare includes assigning patients to a primary care provider, managing referrals to specialists, and obtaining medications for the patients. The medical care providers donate much needed care to those who qualify.

In 2011, the AHP assisted more than 500 patients with prescriptions, valued at approximately $1.8 million. Currently, 33 primary care providers and 60 specialty care providers participate in AHP.  Community outreach activities included three sessions of Boone’s Biggest Winner weight loss program and 17 community health fairs and screenings, 38 CPR classes for the community and 12 health promotion events.

ARHS also runs a Farmworker Health Program, which "provides access to quality, affordable, community-based, culturally appropriate, and comprehensive healthcare services for migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their families in Watauga, Avery, and Caldwell counties."

The system's Facebook page gives a great update on these and other activities. This all reminds us that those delivering care locally, with a good understanding of community needs, are a vital part of the country's health care system.

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