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Avery Addresses Healthcare Shortfalls PDF Print
Written by Annie Rutenberg/Steve Frank   
Friday, 24 August 2012 05:10

How low can you be on the list in North Carolina?  Not lower than 100th of the 100 counties—but that’s where Avery finds itself, according to a presentation Monday before the Avery County Commission by Toe River Health District’s Roger Wise. His power point showed Avery’s Clinical Care status as #100 in the state due to the shortage of primary care providers and a high percentage of uninsured residents.  Watauga ranks 22nd, Mitchell 89th, Yancey 76th, and Burke 55th. Wise reported on the status of a project that the health dept and Cannon Memorial Hospital are working to address the problems in Avery, saying these issues must be addressed.
With 26% uninsured in Avery—the state average 18%—and the ratio of population to primary care physicians in Avery at 1629:1—twice the NC average—the problems are great. The combination has led to preventable hospital stays at twice the average in Avery. Strategies to deal with the situation involve the Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, Cannon Memorial Hospital, Appalachian Regional Medical Assoc, Community Benefits Department, Toe River Health District, the Avery County Health Department and the Farmworker Health Program with the goal, to increase access to primary medical care in Avery. Some progress was already in evidence, with Appalachian Regional Medical Assoc. working on primary care clinic and High County Health Care receiving Federally Qualified Health Center status and funding in June. Wise pointed out that bringing new physicians is hard because with few providers in rural areas, they are on call constantly compared to urban areas.

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