HCC of Rural Missouri's Project Connect Event
- Need: To expand public health and human services to adults living in rural West Central Missouri.
- Intervention: The Health Care Collaborative of Rural Missouri's Network organizes Project Connect events, a 1-day public health event that offers free public health and human services to underserved adults.
- Results: In 2018 alone, Project Connect events provided a total of 8,870 incidents of services to guests, a $302,000 value.
The Health Care Collaborative of Rural Missouri (HCC) is a rural healthcare network comprised of over 60 organizations that serve Missouri's Lafayette, Carroll, Ray, Saline, and Eastern Jackson counties. HCC provides a centralized effort to ensure adequate provision of healthcare services to the public. It also serves as a source of advocacy for healthcare providers. Read more about HCC in the RHIhub's Rural Monitor article Rural Network Leads the Way with Intentional Collaboration.
Along with their many programs and services, several times a year since 2015, HCC puts on Project Connect events to promote community services. Based on Missouri's Project Homeless Connect Workgroup model, Project Connect has brought service organizations together to provide free public health and human services for one day to underserved or underinsured adults.
Project Connect's vision is to provide care for the whole person, not just their ailment, and is geared toward adults, a population that often fall through the cracks. Guests are paired with volunteers from the community to guide them through the booths and introduce them to vendors that typically include the following:
- County public health offices
- Homeless shelters
- Addiction recovery groups
Throughout the year, businesses and manufacture retailers donate goods such as furniture, bedding, towels, paper products, toiletries, mattresses, and mobility equipment to The Warehouse, an HCC program. While the warehouse benefits organizations that serve those in need throughout the year, items are also distributed to attendees of Project Connect events.
HCC partners with the Franciscan Mission Warehouse to provide medical supplies and equipment to agencies in need of medical supplies. HCC works with 60 local service providers, businesses, schools, civic groups, churches, and individuals, including the Missouri Department of Social Services Family Support Division, to extend invitations to clients who could benefit from this event.
Funding for Project Connect includes the REACH Healthcare Foundation of Greater Kansas City, the Health Care Collaborative of Rural Missouri, and other private organizations.
Project Connect events have typically been held at school gymnasiums or churches. Project Connect provides the following services that are often barriers to patients with low income or other social determinants of health. Service information booths and enrollment opportunities:
Public Health Services
- Free medical services from local clinics
- Vouchers for flu shots or vaccines
- Nursing and in-home care resources
- Dental extractions
- Measurements for glucose, A1C, blood pressure
- Vouchers for tetanus shot/immunizations, birth/death certificates, driver's licenses
- Pregnancy tests, women's resources
- Medicare and Medicaid enrollment and education
- Behavioral health screenings
- Blood drive
- Schedule medical appointments for guests if needed
- Mammogram screening available from diagnostic imaging
- Incorporate "National Prescription Drug Take Back Day" by collecting mediation that guests bring to discard, no questions asked
- Nutritional education and program enrollment
- Food stamps
- Vocations rehabilitation
- Veteran resources and services
- Addiction support
- Referrals to social service providers
- Follow up services
- Hair cuts
Between the three 2018 Project Connect events in Higginsville, Buckner, and Odessa, and the daily interaction with community members in need, the following results were successes:
- Over $1 million worth of in-kind donations made to the Warehouse
- 8,870 incidents of services provided
- $302,000 in value of services
- Over 1,100 mattresses were given out
- 901 people served
- Over 550 volunteers helped
- 190 agencies or groups represented
- 135 people with disabilities received care
- 99 teeth extracted
The Warehouse and Project Connect are featured in the following news articles:
- HCC of Rural Missouri continues to provide resources for the less privileged, KMZU, 2017
- HCC Donates To Undeserved, The Buck, 2016
This video talks about HCC's Project Connect, The Warehouse Project, and their other services:
Getting community members, service groups, and volunteers, to grasp the fact that there are people in their own communities who are in need was initially a challenge. However, once people witnessed the needs first-hand at Project Connect events, the reality became clearer.
Another challenge has been finding a way to collect the items businesses and individuals wished to donate. In 2018, HCC purchased a box truck that has solved the transportation problem.
- While having at least one champion of this event is key, it is essential to also have buy-in from community members to make this event a success. Establish local leadership teams to give direction and input about their communities' needs.
- Hold weekly meetings with stakeholder to keep momentum going and to secure volunteers and vendor needs.
- Maintaining good relationships and open communication with your stakeholders is valuable for funding purposes as well. Make sure to communicate all the services you offer through the event. The wider the range of services, the likelier your potential funders will find at least one that interests them.
- Cast the vision of your projects through the network and organizations with whom you partner, since their clients should be your target audience.
- Communicate the vision of the event with passion to make it evident that this event is necessary and beneficial.
HCC staff follow up with all Project Connect attendees using the PRAPARE Assessment Tool, a comprehensive resource directory, to ensure all the clients' needs have been met. HCC is writing a manual on tips for starting an event like Project Connect and The Warehouse to make it easy for others to reproduce these concepts.
Organizations interested in a digital copy of the Project Connect planning toolkit may contact Suzanne Smith (information below).
Networking and collaboration
January 12, 2018
Date updated or reviewed
April 16, 2019
Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.