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Efforts on rural health saluted

by Special to The Commercial | November 27, 2020 at 2:51 a.m.
Chairman Caldwell joins military personnel for an Innovative Readiness Training Medical Mission Initial Planning Meeting, highlighting DRA health-related programs and initiatives. (Special to The Commercial)

The Delta Regional Authority celebrated National Rural Health Day by highlighting programs and initiatives that support access to health care for the 10 million residents who call the Delta home.

The authority observed the effort Nov. 19, according to a news release.

Last week, Delta Regional Authority Chairman Chris Caldwell and staff members joined military personnel for medical mission planning meetings at Lake Village, Greenville and Lake Providence.

Since 2018, the authority has invested more than $3.3 million on 15 projects to update rural medical facilities and partnered on over $6.3 million in health care-related workforce development in the Delta.

Innovative Readiness Training is a collaborative program that uses military contributions and community resources to multiply value and cost savings for participants. Communities typically provide materials and basic services, while military units contribute personnel and training resources, according to the release.

"By utilizing their extensive resources, the military is able to meet some of the region's most urgent health needs. [The] missions produce mission ready forces, civil-military partnerships, and stronger communities by providing quality healthcare services to communities," according to the release.

The Delta Regional Authority is proud to partner in the tri-state Delta Wellness Mission scheduled for July, according to the release.

This mission will provide medical, dental, and optical care to Delta residents in need of quality healthc are at no cost to the patients. The authority works closely with Delta communities and the Department of Defense to assist with the application process as well as planning and implementation for the two-week medical missions.

The authority implements two additional programs specifically focused on improving health care access and health systems within the Delta. The Delta Doctors program works with the State Department to allow foreign physicians trained in the U.S. to work in medically underserved areas or health professional shortage areas within the authority footprint for three years through a J-1 visa waiver. Last year, the authority sponsored and placed 160 doctors in the Delta region through this program.

In collaboration with the Health Resources and Services Administration and the National Rural Health Resource Center, the authority enhances health care delivery in the Delta through intensive, in-depth and long-term technical assistance to rural hospitals and medical facilities. The Delta Region Community Health Systems Development Program supports capacity building for quality improvement, telehealth and integration of social services, helping hospitals increase financial viability and operational efficiency.

To apply for the health systems development program or to be an IRT community, interested participants should contact DRA Health Programs Manager Christina Wade at cwade@dra.gov.

The Delta Regional Authority is a federal-state partnership created by Congress in 2000 to promote and encourage the economic development of the lower Mississippi River Delta and Alabama Black Belt.

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