Healthcare Access in Rural Communities – Models and Innovations
These stories feature model programs and successful rural projects that can serve
as a source of ideas and provide lessons others have learned. Some of the projects
or programs may no longer be active. Read about the
criteria and evidence-base for programs included.
Need: Healthcare access in Central Appalachia for the medically underserved challenged by social and economic determinants of health, including transportation barriers, food insecurity, poverty, and lack of health insurance.
Intervention: Three mobile clinics and 2 stationary clinics provide free health care for people in 16 counties in Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
Results: By leveraging technology and meeting patients where they are, Health Wagon provided comprehensive healthcare services — including specialty care — to 5,500 patients during 16,000 visit encounters in 2020.
Need: To reduce barriers to accessing healthcare for immigrant farmworkers in the rural areas of Vermont.
Intervention: Bridges to Health uses care coordination and health promoters to reduce barriers to accessing healthcare on an individual level. The program offers targeted technical assistance to address systemic barriers at health access points in areas with high numbers of immigrant farmworkers.
Results: Some barriers to accessing healthcare have been reduced or removed for immigrant farmworkers in certain counties.
Need: With the nearest hospital more than an hour away, the local community health center in rural Jackman, Maine struggled to maintain its ability to offer 24/7 care to due to staffing and budgetary challenges.
Intervention: Critical Access Integrated Paramedics provide urgent care to patients after hours and on weekends.
Results: The Jackman Community Health Center has been able to offer round-the-clock care to clinic patients, while also increasing the level of EMS service available to the community.
Need: In rural Garrett County, Maryland, a 1998 community survey found that 41% of kindergarten students had untreated dental decay, and many dentists in the area were not willing to see patients with medical assistance or state health insurance plans.
Intervention: In 1999, the Garrett County Health Department started the Something to Smile About program to improve access to dental care and help dentists negotiate higher reimbursement rates from managed care organizations.
Results: The program established a community dental clinic, provided care to thousands of individuals, and negotiated 30% higher rates for dental service reimbursement.
Need: A lack of basic medical, dental, and vision care for people living in isolated, impoverished, and underserved areas.
Intervention: Free pop-up medical clinics that provide care through a highly efficient system that serves as many patients as possible, utilizing a corps of volunteers made up of licensed medical professionals and laypeople.
Results: Community members in rural and other underserved areas are provided with necessary healthcare and health education, including dental and vision services, at no cost to the patients or taxpayers.
Need: Oral healthcare for low-income adults and children unable to obtain dental care in the Mid-Ohio Valley of West Virginia.
Intervention: Public health dental hygienists act as gatekeepers, screening low-income clients and placing them with area dental providers who volunteer from their private practices to provide needed dental treatment.
Results: Reduces the number of emergency department visits for dental pain and infections and provides a safety net for those unable to afford dental treatment.