Reynolds Trust boosts rural health clinics

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Triad Adult and Pediatric Medicine in Guilford County is getting $51,275 to renovate a home for reuse as a satellite location in Rockingham County for a home community health  center.

And the Free Clinic of Rockingham County is getting $19,450 to renovate new office areas and an educational room, and to buy furnishings, computers and printers.

The two rural health clinics are among nine in some of the state’s poorest counties that are getting much-needed equipment and improvements to their facilities, thanks to a $1 million grant the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust in Winston-Salem awarded last year to the Raleigh-based N.C. Rural Center.

The funding, which will be used for new treatment rooms, a new x-ray machine, an insulin cooler, a wheelchair-accessible van and other improvements, is being provided as part of a larger initiative known as Rural Hope that aims to stimulate economic activity and job growth in the health-care sector while improving the availability and quality of health-care services in rural communities.

Rural Hope, which has received about $5 million is a collaborative effort that includes the Reynolds Trust and Rural Center, as well as the Appalachian Regional Commission, N.C. Office of Rural Health and Community Care, and the Golden Leaf Foundation.

Allen Smart, director of the health-care division at the Reynolds Trust, says that while it can be tough to differentiate funding requests from different health-care agencies, the collaboration has provided an effective way to “get some collective thinking about the capital needs of health-care providers in rural communities.”

That is becoming increasingly important, he says, because rural health-care providers are trying to “ramp up” with more space, more equipment or simply different space in anticipation of changes in the health-care system scheduled to take effect in 2014 that are expected to generate more demand for service because more people will be eligible for Medicaid and thus for services they have not sought in the past.

The Rural Hope effort also has found that many rural-health providers often are housed in physical space that simply needs to be renovated or replaced, Smart says, needs that must be addressed to meet rising demand for services from people who are not insured.

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