$1.5 Million Investment Aims to Connect Rockingham County Residents With the Care They Need

Investments Part of Long-Term Healthy Places NC Initiative

The Trust is providing a $1.5 million grant to launch a coordinated effort to provide assistance to low-income individuals who have chronic medical conditions and/or mental health needs in Rockingham County. The funding is part of a larger effort to build, strengthen and align health, behavioral health, and social services throughout the community. The grant is part of the Trust’s Healthy Places NC effort, a long-term initiative to improve the quality of life and health in rural, financially disadvantaged North Carolina counties.

The Rockingham County Health and Human Services will receive more than $1.5 million over four years to launch the Community Integrated Health Project, which will focus on aligning existing county and community resources for medical care, behavioral health care, and social services through a shared records system. The initiative will strengthen communication and coordination of services to improve management of chronic conditions, increase access to primary care, and reduce overutilization of emergency room services. The project will coordinate patient care services through efforts such as community paramedicine, intensive case management, a behavioral health assessment team, and mobile crisis.

“Healthy Places NC works with communities to develop big, strategic responses to address community-wide problems, and this project is a prime example of that work,” said Jehan Benton-Clark, senior program officer for the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust. “As the initiative has developed in Rockingham County, the need for a concerted effort to address prevention and management of chronic disease has emerged. The Community Integrated Health Project is a community-led response to that need, and we are proud to support it.”

Through the engagement of partners such as local hospitals, EMS, primary care clinics, the Department of Health and Human Services and others in the county, the project aims to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of care. The initiative will:

  • Develop an electronic platform to assist with coordination, communication, referrals, and follow-up.
  • Coordinate training on topics like crisis intervention and mental health first aid across agencies and non-traditional health care sectors like the faith community.
  • Revise and develop new policies, guidelines, and agency specific protocols to address care transition issues and service access issues.
  • Provide direct services through multiple entry points for participants with a chronic medical condition. The work will utilize several approaches including paramedicine.

“This project sounds complex, but it is a game changer for our community. Too many of our neighbors dealing with chronic diseases and mental health needs fall through the cracks,” said Amanda Bennett, executive director of Rockingham County Healthcare Alliance. “We need a system that links real people with the services they need when they need them in a way that is convenient and realistic to their lives.”

Through Healthy Places NC, the Rockingham County community has been focused on improving access to health care and combatting chronic disease. This project builds on previous Trust investments, including the establishment of a Rural Health Center in Eden for low-income residents to access primary and behavioral health care, as well as the creation of an on-site clinic at a Reidsville Housing Authority complex.

Rockingham County joined the Healthy Places NC initiative in 2013. The Trust plans to invest $100 million in 10 to 12 rural counties over a 10-year period. To date, the Trust has invited seven counties—Beaufort, Burke, Edgecombe, Halifax, McDowell, Nash and Rockingham—to participate and will announce additional counties in the coming years. In each county, Healthy Places work and projects are driven by the community’s concerns, as well as by where the Trust thinks there’s an opportunity for sustainable, long-term change. For a complete list of grants approved by the Trust’s Health Care Division this fall, click here.

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