Health Care Officials Say Rural Areas May Lead The Way In Improving Quality Of Care

March 24, 2005 -- Posted at 8:30 p.m. CST

Walnut Ridge, AR -- Health care advocates say improving quality health care may be easier to achieve in rural states like Arkansas.

Leah Osbahr is the president of Lawrence County Services in Walnut Ridge.

"Less bureaucracy, fewer barriers, people come together to make sure it all happens," said Osbahr.

Osbahr says funding is one of the biggest problems facing rural hospitals.

But thanks to Corning Area Healthcare, Lawrence Memorial Hospital, community support, and federal grants, there will soon be a community health center in the emergency department.

"In order to be able to provide care at a cheaper or less expensive rate to our community--where there is a need because of an uninsured, undercared for people in the community," said Osbahr.

One goal is to meet the needs of people who go to the emergency room for routine care they otherwise may not be able to afford.

"Because the community health center operates under federal grant money, they are able to be reimbursed for it, and maintain their stability," said Osbahr.

Anyone will have access to the new facility.

"Patients will pay based on a sliding scale fee based on their level of income and number of people in their family," said Osbahr.

Although construction on the new facility is not complete, the program is up and running in the existing emergency room.