McDowell County Improves Access to Health Care for Low-Income Residents

The Trust will fund a collaborative network to improve access to medical, behavioral and social services for low-income individuals in McDowell County. This investment is part of the Trust’s Healthy Places NC initiative, a long-term program aimed at improving the quality of life and health in rural, financially disadvantaged North Carolina counties.

The McDowell Access to Care and Health (MATCH) network will implement a referral system maximizing local resources to: decrease the number of uninsured residents by enrolling individuals in the marketplace or Medicaid; connect individuals to medical homes; increase medical home capacity and; integrate physical health with other community services.

The Trust awarded $727,915 in operating funds to Community Care of Western North Carolina to work with key partners including McDowell Hospital and Carolina Medical Services-Blue Ridge to establish and implement the network. To date, the Trust has invested more than $4 million to improve health in McDowell County as part of its Healthy Places NC work.

“Making sure that all of our neighbors have access to the care and services they need is a critical step in the effort to build a healthier McDowell County,” said Annie Carpenter of Community Care of Western North Carolina. “Through MATCH, local health care providers are stepping up to create a system that will connect residents with resources available in the community that can help them access high quality care.”

This program is a result of extensive planning and development by the McDowell County Health Coalition, which engages multiple residents from different sectors of the community including business, schools, health care and government. Over an 18-month period, the Access to Care workgroup received technical assistance from Care Share Alliance to develop this model of care. The workgroup completed an asset map of resources in the county and conducted site visits to similar networks including Rockingham Health Alliance and HealthNet Gaston.

“Our partners in McDowell County are deeply committed to providing low-income residents with high quality healthcare and resources,” said Abena Asante, senior program officer at the Trust. “Organizations and individuals came together to identify what the community needs, studied how other communities have tackled access to care and came up with an innovative program that will ultimately make McDowell County a healthier place to live. This is an exciting project that will allow partners to work in different ways to maximize the efficient use of limited resources.”

McDowell County has been participating in Healthy Places NC since 2012. The Trust plans to invest $100 million in 10 to 12 rural, low-income counties over a 10-year period. Six other counties—Beaufort, Burke, Halifax, Rockingham, Edgecombe and Nash Counties—currently participate in Healthy Places.

The Trust announced the McDowell County grant as a part of its recent grant cycle, when the Trust approved more than $10 million in funding to improve the overall health of North Carolinians at the community level. For a complete list of grants approved by the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust’s Health Care Division, click here.