There are three major roles for health care in rural economic development: (1) as an economic base industry attracting external dollars, (2) whose employees and institutions are purchasers of local goods and services and (3) as a factor to recruit businesses and workers.1
Access to health care and improved health outcomes for rural populations plagued by higher rates of obesity and mortality from diseases like diabetes, heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are benefits coequal to the economic advantages resulting from health care facilities located in rural communities. But, as stated in the August 2014 issue brief of the North Carolina Rural Health Action Plan: A Report of the NCIOM Task Force on Rural Health, “despite overall growth in the primary care workforce in the last 30 years, many of North Carolina’s rural counties face persistent primary care shortages.”2 Health Resources and Services Administration and other health workforce data further show that these shortages are not only limited to primary care practitioners—medical doctors, doctors of osteopathy, nurse practitioners and physician assistants—but also include general surgeons in primary care, dental and behavioral health professionals, and other highly skilled health care workers in these same rural areas of the state.
1 Scorsone, Eric. “Health Care Services: Three Critical Roles in Rural Economic Development.” Economic and Policy Update. Kentucky Rural Health Works Program. Vol. 01, No. 13, October 2001. Web. 11 Nov. 2014.
2 Rural Health Snapshot 2010. [Data tables updated August 2010]. North Carolina Rural Health Research and Policy Analysis Center at the Cecil G. Sheps Center of Health Services Research. Web. 11 Nov. 2014.
The 2015 Golden LEAF Health Care Initiative is a special grant initiative of the Board of Directors intended to reduce deficits in the number of professional and highly skilled health care workers in rural, underserved areas of North Carolina. Golden LEAF has set aside approximately $4 million to award grants of up to $500,000 to support projects that demonstrate ability to:
- Increase the number of practitioners and highly skilled health care workers in rural North Carolina, especially in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) and Persistent Primary Care Health Professional Shortage Areas (PHPSAs), thereby creating employment in the health care industry and increasing access to health care in rural North Carolina, and
- Aid the development or expansion of innovative, community-based health care delivery models that help create jobs for and retain health care professionals and highly skilled health care workers in rural North Carolina especially HPSAs and PHPSAs by supporting collaborative models between employers of health care workers and educational or training institutions.
Programmatic goals include:
- Innovative collaboration among educational institutions, employers of health care workers, and the government entity or entities where the practice-based training site is or will be located
- Creative use of existing or planned rural, practice-based training sites
- Match between skills taught and evidence of demand by employers within underserved areas
- Increase in the number of opportunities for health care students to receive training in a community-based practice in rural, underserved areas of NC
- Increase in the number of health care students who do residencies, internships, apprenticeships or practicums in rural, underserved areas of NC
- Increase in the number students in health care fields who are trained in cultural competence to practice in rural settings
- Increase in the number of primary care, dental and/or behavioral health practitioners in rural, underserved communities of NC
- Creation of new, full-time health care or health care-related jobs in rural, underserved communities
- Improved access to comprehensive care in rural, underserved health service areas
Application Deadline has ended. Applications were due February 2, 2015.