FORUM TO ASSESS HEALTH CARE ACCESS IN GREENE COUNTY
Des Moines, July 6, 2009 –The Central Iowa Area Health Education Center is holding a series of community forums to discuss the state of health care in Iowa. Greene County Medical Center will host the second in the series of three meetings on July 16 from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. in the Public Health Classroom located on the East side of the hospital at 1000 West Lincolnway in Jefferson.
The state initiative is assessing the health care needs in Iowa’s underserved areas and particularly how to improve access to health care in rural areas.
“Iowa has several rural areas that are highly underserved,” explained Jill Whitson, MPH, executive director of the Central Iowa Area Health Education Center. “We need to work through the issues and develop strategies to bring access to health care to these areas. Our longer-term goals include enhancing local efforts in addressing specific community needs in health care.”
Community leaders, health care professionals, students and consumers are invited to the forums to discuss a variety of topics including barriers to health care services in underserved areas, the shortage of providers in Central Iowa, and activities that encourage students to enter health care careers.
The first session was held in May at Broadlawns Medical Center. The third meeting is scheduled for Monday, August 3 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Grinnell Regional Medical Center in Grinnell, IA. The findings from the three community forums will be compiled to create a strategic plan to address the need of rural health care access in Iowa.
The Area Health Education Center (AHEC) program is a centralized, regional network that coordinates clinics, hospitals and medical staff to recruit and retain health care workers in rural areas, address workforce shortages and educate students about career options in health care.
The programming is focused on three population groups as it works to enhance local efforts in addressing specific community needs:
- Programs to encourage interest in health care careers among kindergarten through undergraduate students.
- Opportunities for health care students to gain clinical experiences in underserved areas.
- Continuing education opportunities for practicing health professionals to address the unique challenges of serving the underserved.
Although the federal AHEC program has been in existence for nearly 25 years, Iowa did not have a program until Des Moines University began one in 2007 through a federal grant initiative. The first center in Iowa opened in June 2008 at Allen Hospital in Waterloo. The Central Iowa AHEC opened its doors in November 2008 at Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines and serves eight counties: Boone, Dallas, Greene, Guthrie, Jasper, Polk, Poweshiek and Story.
Today, 54 AHEC programs with more than 200 centers operate in the United States, partnering with 120 medical schools and 600 nursing or allied health schools. Over the next few years, Des Moines University plans to open four additional centers, focusing on 63 counties north of I-80.
To learn more about the Central Iowa Area Health Education Center, please visit www.iowaahec.org or contact Jill Whitson at 515-282-5721 or firstname.lastname@example.org
This effort was supported by Grant Number #5U76HP08261 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’ Health Resources and Services Administration (Bureau of Health Professions) and Des Moines University. The contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the supporting entities.”
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