Thursday, March 19, 2020

Partnerships That Work for Rural

Since 2007, Mid-Carolina AHEC has been an active member of the Upper Midlands Rural Health Network (UMRHN), a 19-member consortium serving Chester, Fairfield and Lancaster counties. UMRHN members began meeting in 2004 in order to formalize their healthcare partnerships within mutual service areas.  Karen Nichols, UMRHN executive director, shares that the network and region “have benefitted in a number of ways from the partnership with Mid-Carolina AHEC.”


 Mid-Carolina AHEC works with the UMRHN outreach committee to provide annual continuing education to school nurses and social workers in an effort to improve competencies in managing chronic conditions for school-aged children. The annual workshop provides a central location for nurses in the region to receive training on emerging topics. Particularly in underserved and under-resourced areas, school nurses play a key role in the safety and social support of children who might not receive care anywhere else. Mid-Carolina AHEC provides qualified speakers and corresponding CEU’s to the school nurses, social workers, and counselors who attend the training.

Beyond continuing professional development, Mid-Carolina AHEC supports student training as well. Working with the clinical faculty from the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) in Spartanburg, MUSC Health Lancaster Medical Center, and the local Director of Student Medical Education (DSME), Mid-Carolina AHEC was instrumental in helping UMRHN develop a rural interprofessional student experience for third year medical students to observe the Care Transitions Intervention (CTI)® program. The CTI® program results in better coordination among healthcare providers and measurable improvements for the patient as they become empowered to manage their chronic health condition(s). The rural, interprofessional student experience provides an opportunity for students to better understand how social determinants of health affect patient outcomes.  

Amanda Fernandez, VCOM third year medical student, describes her experience, “The care transitions home visits are very beneficial to the patient’s overall care. On my visit we were able to provide information and education regarding the patient’s post-op instructions and discharge notes. We also helped the patient schedule her very first appointment with a primary care provider. I find that this will aid the healthcare system by providing assistance and education to the patients who need it most.” 

Irini Guda, CTI® project director, explains that “the students’ interaction with the CTI coach and patient provides an opportunity to reinforce patient education and to follow up on health outcomes.”


Mid-Carolina AHEC also hosts multiple meetings at its facility including UMRHN board meetings; the Population Health Summit; Eat Smart, Move More; LIVE Healthy SC and Healthy SC meetings. Mid-Carolina AHEC director Cheri Plyler is currently serving her second term as the chair of UMRHN.  Through Mid-Carolina AHEC’s involvement with UMRHN, the 18 members across the rural, three-county area are kept up-to-date with training, professional development and workforce development opportunities. As the convener and catalyst for health professions education, recruitment and retention, Mid-Carolina AHEC is proud to serve as an integral partner in these rural communities in the region.  

To learn more about Mid-Carolina AHEC programming, visit the Mid-Carolina AHEC website.

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