Northeastern Rural Health Network Gets Grant To Improve Health

The Northeastern Rural Health Network has been awarded a grant from The Duke Endowment to help improve health in Dillon, Marlboro, and Chesterfield counties. The Northeastern Rural Health Network, a diverse group of community organizations working collaboratively, is now one of 15 coalitions across the Carolinas participating in The Duke Endowment’s Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas initiative.
The program takes a bold approach to addressing chronic health issues such as unhealthy weight, diabetes and heart disease. Local coalitions will involve leaders from a wide spectrum of community organizations in developing ways to engage residents in improving their health.
Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas is active in ten N.C. regions. It now expands to five S.C. counties—Greenville, Kershaw, Fairfield, Orangeburg and the Chesterfield/ Dillon/Marlboro area—with plans to expand throughout the Carolinas over the coming years. The initiative began in early 2016 in five diverse North Carolina regions. The Northeastern Rural Health Network is excited to bring the Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas program to Dillon, Marlboro, and Chesterfield Counties.
Research shows that South Carolina ranks 42nd among all states when it comes to the overall health of its residents, earning poor rankings for its obesity and physical inactivity rates. Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas recognizes that health and well-being are created and sustained not just through individual and clinical efforts, but through the cooperation and support of the extended local community.
“Where we live, where we go to school and work, how we spend our free time—even our ability to access fresh food and safely exercise near our homes—all contribute to our health and well-being,” said Christian Barnes-Young, Chair of the Northeastern Rural Health Network. “To truly improve health within our community, we have to expand how we think about what affects our health. It’s more than just what we eat and how many calories we burn. It’s how our community and its economy impact our health. If we can improve health for even a subset of our community, we will have learned a lot about how to increase quality of life for all people.”
Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas provides opportunities to bring together leaders from McLeod Medical Center Dillon, McLeod Health Cheraw, Region 4 of the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, CareSouth Carolina, Northeastern Technical College, Marlboro County Coordinating Council, Chesterfield County Coordinating Council, Rural Area Leadership Initial—Dillon County, Tri-County Community Mental Health Center, the Alpha Center, Trinity Behavioral Care, AccessHealth Pee Dee and other health-promoting organizations. A crucial first step—and one that is funded by The Duke Endowment’s grant—is to strengthen the infrastructure of the local coalitions that are coordinating the effort, so that they’re well-positioned to identify and implement interventions that work.
“The health challenges facing the Carolinas have been decades in the making,” said Lin Hollowell, Director of Health Care of The Duke Endowment. “They cannot be effectively addressed overnight, though we’re starting to see the roots of progress take hold in the first set of Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas communities. The health challenges also cannot be solved by individuals and organizations working alone. Through Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas, communities can work together to confront their problems and make the most progress in achieving solutions.” Representatives from the coalitions will participate in a learning collaborative with opportunities to share information with each other as they develop best practices for organizing, planning and implementing evidence-based programs known to improve health.