Closing the Care Gap: Addressing the "Last Mile" Problem
One of Cumberland Family Medical Center, Inc.'s satellite clinics is located in McCreary County, Kentucky. McCreary County is the 4th least healthy county in Kentucky, as ranked by the Kentucky Institute of Medicine, and is both a Medically Underserved and a Health Professional Shortage Area. As such, it embodies a “last mile” problem in access to health care services.
As a sub-grantee of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky SIF program, the Cumberland Family Medical Center, Inc. is working to close this gap. They have established the McCreary Family Medical Center and are operating a Nurse Managed Health Clinic and Nurse Practitioner/Physician Assistant Training Facility through funding leveraged by the SIF investment.
The Clinic and Facility, as well as the Medical Center, are reaching out to the community to help its residents more easily access necessary health services. They have also partnered with the University of the Cumberland to provide a site for training for four mid-level student trainees.
University staff says that this rural clinic is “exactly where our students need to be.” The response from the community has been equally positive. In the first two quarters of 2011, the clinic reported serving more than 350 new patients.
The McCreary clinic has also brought the county its first digital x-ray service capability through the SIF program and is on track in implementing full Electronic Health Records by its August 1, 2011 deadline. By providing state of the art diagnostic equipment and electronic health record training to student trainees, this clinic hopes to become the starting point of training, retaining, and recruiting providers to this and other underserved, rural areas.