June 9, 2016 | By: Carol Lea Spence

A summer health careers camp and a project to strengthen the nursing care continuum in a rural hospital system recently received seed grants from the Kentucky Rural Community Health program.

Administered by the University of Kentucky’s Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky, the Kentucky Office of Rural Health and the Kentucky Hospital Association, the program provides funds to rural hospitals and health care coalitions. It assists them in addressing health issues and concerns that were identified when the hospitals completed their community health needs assessments, as required by the Affordable Care Act.

Marcum and Wallace Memorial Hospital in Irvine will use their $5,000 grant to improve care coordination, which will lead to improved quality of care and patient outcomes, which, in turn, will result in a positive impact on the hospital’s financial picture.

“With the many changes in health care, including the addition of electronic health records, the hospital recognized that the nursing staff is spending more time in front of computer screens, resulting in a reduction of face-to-face contact with patients,” said Melody Nall, CEDIK extension specialist. “The purpose of their Care Coordination Coalition Project is to identify how to capture the vital health information nurses need and still maintain the patient-provider contact that is so essential in care.”

Barbourville Appalachian Regional Hospital will use their $2,500 grant to team up with the Southern Kentucky Area Health Education Center and Union College Nursing Program to host the Summer Rural Health Scholars, a three-day health careers camp for high school students.

“Participating students will be exposed to a variety of health care opportunities,” Nall said. “There is a shortage of physicians and other health care providers in rural areas. This is the best way to recruit health providers in rural areas, because those who are most likely to come work there are people who are from there. Health career camps like this can begin a long-term recruitment process.”

CEDIK, part of the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, has a history of working with rural hospitals, health coalitions and networks throughout Kentucky. Nall said local hospitals and doctors’ practices often have the largest economic impact in a rural community, providing jobs and returning dollars to the local economy. Good health care is also vital to attracting employers to a region.

“They want a healthy workforce, and they also want to have health care available for their employees,” she said. “Having both of those components in a community is vital for strong economic development.”

Nall said the seed grants are a way for CEDIK, the Kentucky Office of Rural Health and the Kentucky Hospital Association to continue their work with rural hospitals to address health needs as well as provide funding to communities to start new, innovative projects.

“These two projects are very different, but I think they both show the value of investing back in our communities,” she said. “At the heart of both is the desire to improve health care and economic stability in rural communities.”


Melody Nall, 859-218-5949