Improving rural healthcare access: Innovations bridge the gap for rural communities

  • Date: 11/27/2023

Mary Blackburn, Hugh Chatham Health: I think you have to look at it from multiple perspectives. In a rural area, in addition to all the usual challenges around getting the right care at the right place at the right time, we have additional barriers around transportation. There aren’t public transportation systems so people are reliant on family and neighbors. Maintaining those small, rural family practices and rural healthcare clinics matters because people cannot necessarily get to a central location.

What has happened that is groundbreaking, around Medicaid expansion, is that people can have that dignity of having coverage and being able to seek care upstream, having a relationship with a primary care provider in their community rather than being reduced to seeking an emergency room, where (care) is so episodic and there is no follow-through and follow-up. All of the challenges existing in North Carolina are exacerbated in a rural community.

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