January 15, 2003

Kentucky’s counties will get assistance in recognizing the economic value of local health care systems thanks to a new partnership between the University of Kentucky’s Colleges of Agriculture and Medicine.

The deans of each college signed a KY Rural Health Works “Memorandum of Agreement” on January 15.  The agreement creates a collaborative effort between UK’s medical programs and statewide Cooperative Extension programs that will enhance local economic development.

“As we’ve broadened our mission in Cooperative Extension and the College of Agriculture to further enhance rural economic development we’ve connected with a wide variety of new partners, and one of the most successful and rapidly advancing partnerships has been with the College of Medicine.  This agreement is another significant step forward,” said Scott Smith, dean of UK’s College of Agriculture.

“What is outstanding about this agreement is that the College of Medicine and the College of Agriculture can join forces in an interdisciplinary way and begin to look at problems jointly, and there are a number of beneficiaries as a result of this effort, particularly at the local level,” said Emery Wilson, dean of UK’s College of Medicine.

The partnership goal is to provide communities with facts and figures that will help local leaders recognize opportunities and improve their economic development decision making.

Health care plays a critical role in the types and numbers of jobs in rural Kentucky.  For example, in 1980 health care represented just more than 5 percent of rural industry earnings, while in 2000 it represented more than 9 percent of rural industry earnings.

“Health care jobs often support other jobs in the community, such as pharmacies, restaurants, medical supplies, waste management and other services,” said Eric Scorsone, UK rural economic development specialist in the College of Agriculture. “Through our KY Rural Health Works program we hope to provide counties with customized reports based on local statistics that will help them with their economic planning.”

“This program enables the University to provide a resource tool to local people, something data driven that might be too expensive for them to acquire on their own, and it will help them better understand how health care as a business enterprise impacts the local economy,” said Judy Jones, director of UK’s Center for Rural Health. 

KY Rural Health Works is an applied research and outreach program that assists communities in recognizing the economic value of local health care systems. It is a joint program of UK’s Department of Agricultural Economics, Center for Rural Health and Cooperative Extension Service, with additional assistance from the Health Education through Extension Leadership (HEEL) program. 

More information about the KY Rural Health Works program is available online at: www.ca.uky.edu/krhw.