Finalists Announced for 2016 National Rural Health Award

Trust honors innovations from sites in Minnesota, North Carolina, South Dakota

The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust today announced three finalists for the 2016 Innovations in Rural Health Award: Avera eCARE eEmergency (Sioux Falls, South Dakota); Northern Dental Access Center (Bemidji, Minnesota); and The Free Clinics: Bridges to Health program (Hendersonville, North Carolina).

Avera eCARE eEmergency uses real-time video technology to connect rural emergency rooms with board-certified, emergency-trained physicians and nurses. The initiative began in 2009 after the team recognized and saw the need to bring a higher level of emergency care to its community in rural South Dakota.
Northern Dental Access Center blends cultural competence, community partnership and a circle of patient support services to address health disparities and barriers to oral care. Its mission is to provide a Dental Home to people in need within a large rural impoverished region. The center came to fruition thanks to a seven-year community collaboration of government agencies, educators, nonprofits, and employers to address a growing public health crisis in rural, northwest Minnesota.
The Free Clinics’s Bridges to Health program serves high-needs individuals through a combination of integrated drop-in medical appointments and proactive care management. The collaborative program began in 2010 in rural North Carolina with a focus on better serving the 1 percent of patients who generate 25 percent of health care costs, often because they are not well-served in traditional primary care.
The Trust established the Rural Health Award in 2013 to help honor groundbreaking rural health improvement work from around the country and spread innovation in addressing health challenges facing rural communities.

“More than 46 million Americans live in rural communities and suffer from a gap in both the services they receive and the health outcomes they experience. We’re heartened by our finalists’ efforts to both cultivate local assets and foster change from within,” said Trust President Dr. Laura Gerald. “Based on the quality and quantity of applications we received, these projects represent just the tip of the iceberg of innovation happening in rural communities around the country.”

The Trust received more than 100 Rural Health Award entries from nonprofits, government agencies, and individuals located around the country. The entries were reviewed and scored by a National Review Committee, as well as Trust staff. Entries were judged based on five criteria: the ability to address difficult or long-standing issues of prevention or treatment; the transferability to rural economically distressed regions of North Carolina; the consistency with high-impact work in other rural places; the potential for impact within three to five years; and signs of success.

The Trust will honor the three finalists and announce the winner of the Rural Health Award on October 28th from 1:30-3:30 PM at Campbell University in Buies Creek.

The winner will win the New Rural Award and a total of $25,000, and the two remaining finalists will receive $7,500 each. The Trust will work to explore the feasibility of implementing the winner’s project in rural North Carolina. For more information about the Award, visit,