Rural Health Initiative Coordinated by Mercer, Georgia Southern Receives $10,000 Grant

Rural Health Initiative Coordinated by Mercer, Georgia Southern Receives $10,000 Grant

August 20, 2015

MACON – A rural health initiative coordinated by Mercer University and Georgia Southern University recently received a $10,000 planning grant from Emory University's PARTNERS for Equity in Child and Adolescent Health to explore establishing a school-based health center in Evans County in east central Georgia.

The Evans Partnership for Health will use the funds from the grant to support a yearlong, comprehensive planning process involving formation of a board to enact a community assessment and engagement initiative, complete feasibility assessments and sustainability planning, and build community support. The goal is for the board to have all of the necessary planning completed to start a school-based health center if the planning process indicates it will be beneficial to the community and sustainable over time.

"We are very excited to receive this support to help us move toward establishing a school-based health center in Evans County," said Dr. Jacob Warren, director of the Center for Rural Health and Health Disparities in Mercer's School of Medicine. "This funding is extremely important, as Evans County faces severe provider shortages and a variety of indicators show that both child and adult health are far worse than in the rest of Georgia."

School-based health centers are clinics situated on or near school grounds that allow children direct access to comprehensive medical services they may not otherwise be able to access due to transportation barriers, financial stressors and difficulties many parents face in taking time off from work to take their children to a doctor's office. 

The benefits of such centers include not only improved health within children, but also higher grades, better retention and progression, and up to a 50 percent reduction in absences among children most at risk. Research studies have shown that these clinics may also reduce inappropriate emergency room use and hospitalization, Medicaid expenditures, tardiness, and school discipline referrals.

The Evans Partnership for Health, formed in 2013, is a multi-sector collaboration of community members from public service, K-12 education, universities, healthcare agencies and business who are dedicated to eliminating health problems and creating a healthier community in Evans County.

The partnership is supported by grant P20MD006901 through the National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. Dr. Warren is one of the principal investigators, along with Dr. Bryant Smalley, executive director of Georgia Southern's Rural Health Research Institute.

For more information on the Evans Partnership for Health, contact Dr. Warren at warren_jc@mercer.edu

About the Mercer University School of Medicine (Macon, Savannah and Columbus)

Mercer University's School of Medicine was established in 1982 to educate physicians and health professionals to meet the primary care and health care needs of rural and medically underserved areas of Georgia. Today, more than 60 percent of graduates currently practice in the state of Georgia, and of those, more than 80 percent are practicing in rural or medically underserved areas of Georgia. Mercer medical students benefit from a problem-based medical education program that provides early patient care experiences. Such an academic environment fosters the early development of clinical problem-solving and instills in each student an awareness of the place of the basic medical sciences in medical practice. The School opened a full four-year campus in Savannah in 2008 at Memorial University Medical Center. In 2012, the School began offering clinical education for third- and fourth-year medical students in Columbus. Following their second year, students participate in core clinical clerkships at the School's primary teaching hospitals: Medical Center, Navicent Health in Macon; Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah; and The Medical Center and St. Francis Hospital in Columbus. The School also offers master's degrees in family therapy, preclinical sciences and biomedical sciences and a Ph.D. and Psy.D. in clinical medical psychology.