The Delta States Rural Development Network (Delta States) Grant Program funds organizations working to address unmet local health care needs and prevalent health disparities in the eight Delta States (Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee). Creating collaborations among rural providers is a central component of the Delta States Grant Program. Implemented programs must target chronic disease preventive or clinical health services; access to prescription drugs for the medically indigent; and practice-management efforts around priority areas of oral health improvement, school-based health services, mental health, and teenage pregnancy prevention.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality identifies residents of rural areas as a priority population, given rural residents’ lower scores on national measures of quality and access to care. The Delta region is particularly challenged by high concentrations of poverty, lack of access to health education and health care, and higher rates of disease morbidity and mortality, compared to the rest of the country.
The Georgia Health Policy Center (GHPC) has worked with a wide variety of Delta States grantee organizations since 2002, including nonprofit organizations, government agencies, health care providers (e.g., hospitals, community health centers, etc.), schools, and universities. The Community Health Systems Development team at GHPC tailors its technical assistance to Delta States grantees in consideration of the region’s unique cultural, racial, and economic history. Technical assistance to Delta States grantees also addresses the unique challenge of building broad partnerships and coordinated delivery of services over a large geographic service area, which complicates program oversight and evaluation. Geographic barriers can impede communication and partnership-building, but partnership development is particularly important in the Delta region given the immense and unmet need for health promotion and health care services in one of the most underserved regions of the country.