“Access to quality health care is a complex issue that involves many aspects of life in rural communities,” Walker said. “This report provides some practical insights into ways to improve health care and general health in these more remote areas.”
The task force was led by the North Carolina Institute of Medicine and the Governor’s Office of Rural Health and Community Care and funded by a grant from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust.
Education and economic activity are keys to better health in rural communities, according to the report. Recommendations include enhanced funding for child care and education; better outreach to rural residents on their insurance options under the federal health law, promoting better eating and exercise habits and more incentives for recruiting and retaining health care professionals in underserved areas. The report also endorsed better screening and treatment for mental health and substance abuse issues in primary care offices and public health clinics.