These stories feature model programs and successful rural projects that can serve as a
source of ideas. Some of the projects or programs may no longer be active. Read about the
criteria and evidence-base
for programs included.
Need: In rural eastern North Carolina, Lenoir County residents experience significantly higher rates of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and obesity rates compared to other parts of the state and nation.
Intervention: A community-based research project was designed to develop and test better ways to tackle cardiovascular disease, from prevention to treatment.
Results: The end goal includes the development of long-lasting strategies and approaches within the community to help decrease the risk and disparities in risk of cardiovascular disease.
Need: To encourage farmers to make health and safety changes on their farms.
Intervention: Farm Dinner Theater is an event in which farmers and their families watch three 10-minute plays covering health and safety topics and then discuss solutions to the issues addressed in each.
Results: In a study, farmers who attended the plays were more likely to make changes and tell others what they learned, compared to farmers who received an educational packet with the same information.
Need: Provision of medical care access and follow-up for rural North Carolina HIV patients with mental health, substance abuse, and unstable housing/homelessness challenges.
Intervention: Medical home staff model expanded to a care coordination program with a core Network Navigator and Continuum of Care Coordinator assisting with medical, behavioral health, and basic life needs.
Results: To date, the program has advanced three aspects of medical home patient care for this target population: provided further understanding of the spectrum of homelessness, including "hidden" homelessness; implemented outreach with creation of new community partnerships and a community housing coalition; and integrated medical care and behavioral health care for HIV.
Need: To increase recruitment and retention of health professionals in rural western North Carolina.
Intervention: The Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) Rural Fellowship offers mentorship, education, research support, and community-building opportunities for local providers in their first year of practice.
Results: Of the 30 fellows who have completed the program since 2017, 97% are still practicing in rural areas; 87% are still practicing in rural western North Carolina.
Need: Due to systemic issues and historic lack of investment, people living in under-resourced rural communities in North Carolina– especially people of color– have poorer health than those living in urban areas.
Intervention: Funded by the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, Healthy Places NC invested $100 million over 10 years in rural North Carolina counties to improve residents' health.
Results: Healthy Places NC has generated excitement and promoted collaboration in the participating communities. A full evaluation of the first 10 years of the program will be released in fall of 2024.
Need: An increased interest among young people to pursue a medical career in rural North Carolina
Intervention: Two medical students started a program that gives high school seniors medical academic training, mentor relationships, and hands-on experience in rural North Carolina facilities.
Results: Project PROMISE has graduated 36 high school students, 16 of whom are pursuing an undergraduate degree with an interest in studying medicine. Two students were recently accepted into medical school.