Widespread flooding in southern Louisiana last month damaged at least 100,000 homes and killed 13 people. The impact was felt mostly in urban Baton Rouge and surrounding neighborhoods.
But the flooding also affected rural areas and rural clinics. According to Tracie Ingram, director of the Louisiana SORH, two independent Rural Health Clinics (RHCs), which the SORH helped establish, experienced massive flooding.
“Thanks to the SORH Grant and our relationship with these providers, we found out immediately and were able to assist them in getting relocated and retain their licenses,” Ingram said. Both RHCs were back up serving rural citizens in alternative locations within four days of being flooded. “Through our relationship with the Louisiana Rural Health Association (LRHA), they were given $1,000 each for supplies and we are working on obtaining more funding. Also, AmeriCares sent both RHCs supplies and gave one clinic $37,000 to help obtain a modular building. Both RHCs are expected to be back in permanent locations by mid-September.”
In addition to the RHCs, Ingram said, one rural FQHC had to be closed because of the flood, mostly due to worry about possible mold and moisture underneath. Since then it has been tested and treated, and is now back in operation. While the facility was shut down, the FQHC’s staff worked at a local shelter to make sure that patients still retained access to medical care.
“I’ve never been more proud of our rural providers,” Ingram concluded. “If they were down temporarily, many served in shelters or they joined together to get each other back and operating. Competitors truly have become friends and clinic saviors. While this has been trying and stressful, it has forged bonds that can’t be broken. It has been an awesome collaboration. We are truly thankful for them and to have been able to help through the SORH, FLEX, and SHIP programs.”
The LRHA has established a “Crowd Funding” website where individuals and organizations can contribute money to help rural communities and providers that have been impacted by the flood. The goal is to raise $10,000. For more information, go to the Help Louisiana Rural Health Clinics website.
The Louisiana Office of Rural Health gets together with rural health partners every quarter for an informal luncheon to discuss the latest issues and to identify areas of collaboration. Tracie Ingram, SORH Director, says, “We communicate so often anyway that we decided we needed a day set on the calendar to all get together.” Invited are those with a statewide rural interest. The key attendees are the SORH, the Primary Care Association, Hospital Association, Rural Health Association and QIO. They discuss policy implications, grant opportunities, and hot topics to see how they can partner with each other or help one another.
Each quarter, the hospital association sends a doodle calendar poll to pick a date. They select a different restaurant each time and 5-7 people pay for their own lunch. Beth Millet, Health Systems Development Unit Director for the SORH says, “This is a laid back meeting without an agenda.” The sole purpose is to get together face-to-face at the same time to share obstacles to overcome to achieve successes for the rural communities they serve. The setting is very casual and social. There are no agendas, no minutes, and no motions. Instead, the environment provides an opportunity for partners to let each other know what they are working on and the causes they support
Ingram explains, “We started these monthly small group luncheons a couple of years ago and they have been extremely well received. This has allowed the leadership to learn more about member needs and how we may better serve in our development, advocacy, and development efforts.
“This is a great example of a SORH being a good convener and identifying issues ahead of time with no impact on budget. Sometimes these are difficult conversations to have with PCOs and other state partners and we laud their efforts to work together on important issues impacting their state,” says Teryl Eisinger, Executive Director of NOSORH
Does your SORH have a “Promising Practice”? We’re interested in the innovative, effective and valuable work that SORHs are doing. Contact Kassie Clarke, NOSORH’s Communication and Development Coordinator to set up a short email or phone interview in which you can tell your story.
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