Hazard, Ky. (November 16, 2020) – Thirty years ago, the University of Kentucky’s Center of Excellence in Rural Health opened in Hazard, Ky. This month, the center is launching an anniversary celebration with a series of videos and articles that highlight the many people, programs, partnerships and contributions that have kept the center committed to its mission of improving quality. health and well-being of people in rural Kentuck.
“These are exciting times for CERH UK,” said Director Dr Fran Feltner. “While the pandemic has changed our plans for an in-person celebration, we look forward to highlighting initiatives that advance our mission, as well as honoring the individuals who had the vision to establish the center and to help lay our foundations. ”
The UK CERH was established during the January 1990 legislative session to address health workforce shortages and health disparities in rural Kentucky communities. Ten months later, the Center opened its doors in the former ARH hospital and welcomed its first family medicine residency cohort. Soon after, the center welcomed its first class of physiotherapists, followed by several other degrees offered close to home, including nursing, social work, and medical laboratory science, all of which enabled the Center to now have over 1,000 graduates. The vast majority of UK CERH graduates strive to meet the healthcare needs of rural Kentucky communities. Many of them are in advanced positions as industry leaders, mentors and experts.
Just a short year after the Center opened, the Kentucky Office of Rural Health (KORH) was created by a federal-state partnership authorized by federal law. It was natural for the UK CERH to serve as the federally appointed KORH to begin developing a framework to connect small rural communities to local, state and federal resources while working on long term solutions to health problems. In a rural area. KORH helps clinicians, administrators and consumers find ways to improve communications, finances and access to quality health care while ensuring that funding agencies and policy makers are aware of the issues. needs of rural communities. The KORH administers the Kentucky Student Loan Repayment Program and the National Health Service Corps.
Much of CERH’s research in the UK has focused on health disparities. One of CERH’s first research projects in the UK led to the creation of Kentucky Homeplace, a highly successful community health worker (CHW) initiative that has served over 100,000 clients over the past 25 years. . Today, Kentucky Homeplace is a robust operation with 22 CHWs helping underserved customers in 30 rural Appalachian counties access much-needed health, social and environmental services. Kentucky Homeplace is supported by a long-term partnership with the Kentucky Department of Public Health.
“Our 30th anniversary is the perfect opportunity to recognize our successful long term programs such as Kentucky Homeplace, KORH and our local academic offerings. This is also the perfect time to present some of our new initiatives, ”said Dr Feltner.
In recent years, the Center has established a research conference, a rural health magazine, and a youth research and leadership development program. Appalachian Research Day: Come Sit on the Porch is an annual conference hosted by CERH UK with the aim of sharing local research findings with the community. Healthy WAY is a leadership development and research program for high school students. The Bridge Magazine is published quarterly with the KORH, to highlight best practices and innovative solutions to Kentucky’s rural health challenges.
The work of the Center continues to strengthen communities. Through partnerships with other organizations, the UK CERH has been instrumental in creating local opportunities like the Community Leadership Institute of Kentucky to invest in our community leaders, the CARAT project for people in need of a durable medical equipment, Operation Change for women who want their health and the premier stroke survivor and caregiver support group in Eastern Kentucky.
“It would be impossible for the Center to do all of this work alone,” said Dr Feltner. “The cornerstone of our success has really been in the relationships we have cultivated over the years. We could never accomplish all that we have done without our dedicated staff, faculty, and many valuable partners, both at the University and in the community. Join the UK CERH’s 30th Anniversary Virtual Celebration on their website and Facebook to see the video series highlighting the many programs, projects and events that have helped shape the center as it is today.
Watch a video from Dr. Mark Newman: https://youtu.be/BfScXzroN6w