Rural Health Planning Funds Awarded To Local Church Partnership

On September 26, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Administrator Dr. Mary Wakefield announced the award of grants to support health care in rural areas, including funds for the planning of a rural health network in Suwannee, Taylor, Madison, Hamilton and Lafayette counties.  The grant is being awarded to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Live Oak, in partnership with over 20 local public and private community based organizations. “This funding will allow these counties to expand their network and enhance local capacity and coordination of care,” said Dr. Celeste Philip, Deputy Secretary for Health at the Florida 
Department of Health. “The Department of Health fully supports these efforts. By working together, rural health care partners can increase access to vital and high-quality health care services in their communities where they are most needed.”
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church applied for HRSA Rural Health Network Planning and Development funding on behalf of the medically isolated rural residents in a five county area of North Central Florida and community partners in Hamilton, Madison, Taylor, Lafayette and Suwannee Counties.  The focus of this grant will be to capitalize on the momentum and commitment by local partners to improve the delivery of health care, ancillary services and health outcomes, by formally establishing and expanding a “Network” of community partners that already include five county health departments, Shands Hospital – Live Oak, The Healthy Start Coalition for Jefferson, Madison and Taylor Counties, Inc., the Taylor County School District, the Suwannee County School District, Brehon Family Services, Partnership for Strong Families, Apalachee Mental Health, Meridian Behavioral Healthcare, DISC Village, the United Way of Suwannee Valley, the Florida Departments of Children and Families and Juvenile Justice and many more.
All five counties are in the bottom quartile of Florida in Median Family Income, with child and elderly poverty rates far exceeding the state average, with poverty rates for children and elders exceeding twice the state rate. Health and mental health indicators for these counties are significantly worse than indicators represented in statewide averages. This grant would specifically develop a network of agencies committed to improving rural health and health related services to geographically isolated residents, including the development of a business plan and cost model for the delivery of health and ancillary services to geographically remote locations in the five county areas in anticipation of seeking both public and private funding opportunities, by the end of the grant funding period.
For further information contact George Hinchliffe (386) 249-2431.
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