The purpose of the Delta States Rural Development Network Grant Program (Delta) is to fund organizations located in the eight Delta States (Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee) to address unmet local health care needs and prevalent health disparities. The Delta grant program fosters collaborative efforts among rural providers, as these disparities cannot be solved by any single entity. Grantees are funded to implement programs with a primary focus on diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or obesity.
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, health disparities, 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.