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TMCNet:  Hartsville CareSouth office awarded $200,000 grant

[January 30, 2013]

Hartsville CareSouth office awarded $200,000 grant

Jan 29, 2013 (The Messenger - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- HARTSVILLE, S.C. -- WANTED: Tech-savvy, culturally competent, skilled health workers who can juggle mounds of paperwork, manage electronic medical records, and deal with new coverage plans and requirements -- all while caring deeply about vulnerable patients.

CareSouth Carolina in Hartsville has been awarded a $199,308 grant from the RCHN CHF Community Health Foundation to help train and retain health center workers such as medical assistants, receptionists, care managers, and health system navigators. These workers are typically a patient's first and primary connection to their health care provider and essential to a health center's operations.

CareSouth, which serves 37,000 patients at 10 sites in rural South Carolina, is one of only five federally qualified community health centers (CHCs) around the country to receive a RCHN CHF worker training grant this year. In partnership with Northeastern Technical College, the award will allow CareSouth to increase the number of skilled community health workers and certified medical assistants and expand its "patient-centered team" model of care.

"We are thrilled to receive this grant that will help us to increase access to care and improve the patient experience," said Ann Lewis, CEO, CareSouth Carolina. "As a rural health care provider, it can be a challenge to find workers with the right skills. This project will help us to develop our frontline staff, which is good news for our community both in terms of career opportunities and our ability to improve patient health." With a focus on chronic care, CareSouth Carolina plans to build on the success of the Learning from Effective Ambulatory Practices (LEAP) program supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The project will train staff who are essential to broadening and strengthening the Center's capacity as a patient-centered medical home. Working with Northeastern Technical College, CareSouth Carolina will also use the grant funds to design and implement a certified Community Health Worker curriculum.

CHCs such as CareSouth Carolina are located in underserved communities where challenges to recruit and retain a skilled workforce often include a limited labor pool, lack of vocational training, and language and cultural barriers. Yet, our nation relies on community health centers to provide care to more than 22 million people each year, and that number is expected to increase dramatically when the Affordable Care Act takes full effect in 2014.

"Our ability to meet a greater demand for health care falls squarely on our system's ability to increase capacity," said Julio Bellber, President and CEO of RCHN CHF. "That means we must prepare our nation's 1,200 community health centers to recruit, train, and retain workers who can meet increased patient care needs." CareSouth Carolina is a private, non-profit community health center delivering patient-centered health and life care services to people in the Pee Dee region of South Carolina since 1980. In 2011, CareSouth Carolina served over 36,000 patients, 49 percent of whom had no health insurance. With more than 280 employees, CareSouth Carolina operates primary care centers in Bennettsville, Bishopville, Chesterfield, Cheraw, Hartsville, Lake View, McColl, and Society Hill. Services provided include family practice, pediatrics, geriatrics, social services, clinical counseling, laboratory, X-Ray and a pharmacy. CareSouth Carolina has been recognized as a national model of success in the delivery of health services to people in need in rural communities. www.caresouth-carolina.com ___ (c)2013 The Messenger (Hartsville, S.C.) Visit The Messenger (Hartsville, S.C.) at www2.scnow.com/community/messenger/ Distributed by MCT Information Services

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