Local News

$10M Grant To Increase Health Care In Rural Areas Of N.C.

Posted February 21, 2006

— A multimillion-dollar grant from the

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation

will help make health care far more accessible in rural areas of the state.

  • On The Web:

    Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation

  • On The Web:

    North Carolina Medical Society Foundation

    The $10 million grant awarded to the

    North Carolina Medical Society Foundation

    boosts its Community Practitioner Program, which helps pay off school loans for medical professionals who commit to working for up to five years in rural areas across the state.

    According to the foundation, the grant will increase the number of physicians and physician's assistants in 20 of North Carolina's economically depressed counties, such as Vance, Warren, Halifax and Edgecombe, which have some of the worst health care shortages in the state.

    The Community Practitioner Program has been in place for a number of years, but was recently in danger of folding because of a lack of grant money.

    The grant, however, will help expand the program and increase the number of physicians and physician's assistants from 95 to more than 150 in a four-year period.

    With more than 1 million uninsured North Carolinians living in rural communities, medical professionals say -- areas that are often economically depressed. Some say those two factors make these places unappealing to doctors. There's no profit in practicing there.

    The foundation said that about 64 percent of health-care professionals currently involved in the program stay in the community where they've committed to work once the commitment has ended.

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