Dartmouth Health is leading efforts to address inequalities in rural health care

According to Dartmouth Health, rural residents face unique challenges in accessing health care, such as: B. in distant regions.

Dartmouth Health launched an initiative to identify and address health care inequalities in northern New England.

Health equity has emerged as an urgent U.S. public health issue during the coronavirus pandemic. In particular, there was COVID-19 health inequalities for many racial and ethnic groups who faced higher risk of disease and relatively high mortality rates.

Earlier this month, Lebanon, New Hampshire-based Dartmouth Health opened the Center for Advancing Rural Health Equity (CARHE).

Joanne Conroy, MD, President and CEO of Dartmouth Health, said in a prepared statement that CARHE will address one of the biggest challenges facing the nation’s healthcare system.

“We face major challenges in providing and receiving health care in our rural communities. And we know that among our rural communities, there are those who face even greater challenges because of racism, historical exclusion, poverty and sexual orientation. Through the work of the Center for Advancing Rural Health Equity, we strive to work with the community to learn about the causes of health inequalities in rural northern New England and to test solutions. Establishing the Center for Advancing Rural Health Equity is a significant step in advancing our mission to address these persistent differences head on and ensure our patients are fully connected to the care they deserve,” she said.

People living in rural areas face unique barriers to accessing health and social services, and rural geography makes it difficult for health systems and social services to reach everyone who needs care, Dartmouth Health said.

The planning process for CARHE was concentrated between January and June. The planning team included academics, members of community-based organizations, officials from the Vermont Department of Health, and rural residents in New Hampshire and Vermont. According to Dartmouth Health, CARHE will have four main approaches to address healthcare disparities across the country:

  • Healthcare redesign: Putting knowledge into practice to meet the needs of the rural population
  • Research: Community-based research focused on creating evidence to support action
  • community action: Partnerships between communities and health systems tailored to local needs
  • education: Training and knowledge sharing

The CARHE Leadership Council, the centre’s governing body, was established in August. Leadership Council members include clinicians, community leaders, educators and researchers. The center also has a Community Advisory Council made up of residents representing diverse communities in rural northern New England.

CARHE will be a collaborative effort, Rudolph Fedrizzi, director of White River Junction’s District Public Health Services and chair of the center’s Leadership Council, said in a prepared statement. “We are excited to be working with so many partners to create the Center for Advancing Rural Health Equity and meaningfully advance this shared vision of improving the health of our communities. This collaborative approach, drawing on both expertise and lived experience, is a powerful strategy to improve the lives of all our friends, family and neighbors in rural New England.”

Related: The benefits and challenges of running a rural health care system

Christopher Cheney is Senior Clinical Care Editor at HealthLeaders.