Nov. 21 was National Rural Health Day, a time to honor the work done by local health providers in rural communities. During an afternoon press conference at the Louisville Marriott East, the Kentucky Hospital Association, the Kentucky Office of Rural Health and the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment addressed the value of rural hospitals and announced the rural health care coalition recipients of the Kentucky Community Rural Health Grants.
The college’s Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky, led by Alison Davis, an associate professor in the UK Department of Agricultural Economics, partners with the UK colleges of Public Health, Pharmacy and Business and the UK Center for Excellence in Rural Health to better the health of many Kentuckians by improving access to and quality of health care in rural communities.
“We have a very strong rural health research and outreach program within CEDIK. In addition, faculty within the college’s School of Human Environmental Sciences and family and consumer sciences Cooperative Extension agents in the counties also help to promote safe families and communities through education and the coordination of health-related events,” Davis said.
CEDIK recently assisted 35 hospitals in Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio with the Community Health Needs Assessment that was mandated by the Affordable Care Act. The Kentucky Community Health Grants are a direct result of the assessments.
“Each of these hospitals now has a plan in place to address the health care needs in their communities,” Davis said. “We felt this would be an excellent opportunity to give back to hospitals and the communities they serve by giving them a modest amount of funds to either further plan and collaborate with new partners or implement specific action steps that were specifically mentioned in their assessments.”
A total of $26,000 in grant monies was awarded to:
W.A.T.C.H., Working Actively Toward Community Health, in Adair County. More than one-third of Adair’s population is considered obese and about the same number report no regular physical activity. Because many of its citizens live below the poverty line, there is a need for low cost or free physical activity opportunities. The grant will support plans by Westlake Regional Hospital, Lake Cumberland District Health Department and the Columbia-Adair County Parks and Recreation Board to host a variety of activities, including a health carnival that will target children and their family members, a community walking club, the installation of mile markers at the Jim Blair Center walking track, and complete the Community Health Improvement Plan.
Developing Leadership Capacity for a Healthy Clay. With funds from the grant, Clay County’s coalition will host Emergentics, a daylong, facilitated conference for 40 local health leaders. In addition, the coalition will conduct a series of classes led by Manchester Memorial Hospital that will address six of the eight identified health issues in the hospital’s Community Health Needs Assessment, including nutritional standards and healthy lifestyle choices.
Measure to Success — Southern Floyd County Youth Obesity Prevention Initiative. The Southern Floyd County Healthy Youth Coalition has identified approximately 250 middle school students, to whom they will provide screenings, education and prevention programs to combat the increasing number of obese youth in Floyd County. The need for community education for youth and adults was identified during the Community Health Needs Assessment process for McDowell Appalachian Regional Hospital.
Super Saturdays at the Merchant Mile. The Green County Cooperative Extension Service and the Green County Health Department partnered to create the Merchant Mile, an easily accessible walking path in downtown Greensburg, which also increased foot traffic for local merchants. Super Saturdays at the Merchant Mile will provide Jane Todd Crawford Memorial Hospital with an opportunity to showcase services and to offer screenings. It will also provide the opportunity for the Green County Health and Wellness Coalition to conduct health surveys and for local members to increase their outreach.
Healthy Marshall County. County residents have identified three prevalent issues: obesity, substance abuse and workplace readiness. The Healthy Marshall County Coalition will lead three groups that will address education in healthy lifestyles for youth and adults. They will also offer computer skills training, resume preparation assistance and teach other job-ready skills to improve opportunities for employment, which in turn offers opportunities for increased access to a healthy lifestyle.
Purchase District Community Health Coalition. The Purchase District Health Department serves Ballard, Carlisle, Fulton, Hickman and McCracken counties. With this funding, the coalition plans to coordinate with participants in the local Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships to identify strategies that will address current health issues by matching identified assets with prioritized needs.
“We announced these projects on National Rural Health Day, because it is the perfect time to celebrate the excellent work by local providers and institutions in rural communities around the country,” Davis said.
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