The Kentucky Office of Rural Health is one of three organizations in the U.S. to receive a three-year, nearly $900,000 grant from the federal Office of Rural Health Policy to improve access to health care for veterans living in rural Kentucky and to improve the coordination of care for veteran patients. The University of Kentucky Center of Excellence in Rural Health in Hazard serves as the federally designated Kentucky Office of Rural Health.
The $899,997 grant, provided through the Rural Veterans Health Access Program, will fund a range of efforts: conducting a needs assessment focused on the resources, programs, best practices and organizations currently available to assist the state’s rural veterans; establishing and regularly calling together a stakeholder advisory group to guide projects; and hosting training sessions and community health days events for veterans, their families, health-care organizations and other community members.
Scott said the project also provides an opportunity to develop a closer relationship with the Veterans Health Administration, the country’s largest integrated health system, and to encourage innovative community partnerships between the VHA’s clinics and medical centers and Kentucky health-care professionals.
“There are plenty of efforts taking place here in the commonwealth to meet the needs of our rural veterans, and we’re not here to duplicate those efforts,” Scott said. “Instead, what we hope to do is call attention to any gaps that might exist in the care being provided to veterans and work with partners to develop solutions. We also want to showcase the good that’s being done and that can be replicated in other communities. This project is a win-win for everyone involved.”
The Office of Rural Health, established in 1991, is a federal-state partnership authorized by federal legislation. It works directly with clinicians, clinic and hospital administrators, policymakers and other stakeholders to improve the accessibility of health care services for the state’s rural and under-served residents. The office connects communities and health-care organizations to local, state and federal resources while working toward long-term solutions to financial, quality improvement and workforce challenges.