What We Do
The Rural Health Operations Team works to connect organizations and rural primary healthcare sites to resources, to increase access to quality care, and coordinate existing services. The goal of these efforts is to build strong, coordinated networks in communities while avoiding duplication of efforts. One way the team accomplishes this is through our State Designated Rural Health Center Program funding. The funding currently supports 25 sites covering 49 counties (data as of SFY 2022-2023).
The Rural Health Operations team provides support for the operations of community-based primary health clinics sites throughout the state ensuring the provision of basic health care. The Operations Team
- Administers the State Designated Rural Health Center Program Funding
- Provides technical assistance to State Designated Rural Health Centers, Rural Health Clinics, and safety net organizations
- Provides quarterly trainings and newsletters to State Designated Rural Health Centers and Rural Health Clinics
Also, the Rural Health Operations team is available to refer organizations to resources regarding the following:
- Social Drivers of Health
- Clinical Quality
- EHR Utilization
- Chronic Care Management
Rural Health Center Program
NC ORH assists underserved communities and populations with developing innovative strategies for improving access, quality, and cost-effectiveness of health care. Distribution of primary care providers in North Carolina has historically been skewed toward cities and larger towns. Rural residents, who often face transportation issues, find accessing primary care services difficult. Through the establishment of State Designated Rural Health Centers (SDRHC), NC ORH partners with local communities to provide funding to improve ability to serve underserved populations who would otherwise be unable to access needed primary care services due to geographic, economic, or other barriers. Thus, SDRHCs have become an integral part of the health care safety net for North Carolina’s rural and underserved residents.
The primary purpose of the state designation is to support new access points and stabilize current access in care sites that do not already receive support through the Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) designation. However, funding is available to support and sustain access to care in rural areas that may face sufficient challenges without the SDRHC funding. Recognizing the need for access to healthcare as the demographics of NC, as well as access points, change (due to FQHC growth and multi-site practice locations) is necessary for incubating and supporting the growth of new access points for health care in rural NC.
ORH defines an SDRHC as a health care safety net organization that is a 501(c)3 non-profit, community-owned organization with an active board that has as its primary mission to provide primary health care services to those residing in its community. SDRHCs must be located within communities that are both rural and underserved and must currently be delivering primary health care services.
State Designated Rural Health Centers offer high quality primary health care services to all residents.
- Rural Health Centers are in rural communities that are medically underserved.
- All Rural Health Centers accept Medicaid, Medicare, and private insurance.
- The organization operating the Rural Health Center is a 501(c) 3 non-profit community owned organization.
- The Rural Health Center administers the Office of Rural Health’s (ORH) Medical Access Plan (MAP) and/or Behavioral Health (BH) to uninsured individuals in the service area who meet certain criteria.
- MAP eligibility is based on income.
- MAP patients pay a co-payment. These visits are reimbursable at a rate of $100.00 per MAP encounter. BH visits are reimbursable at a rate of $75.00 per encounter.
Related Program Resources
Organizations interested in becoming a State Designated Rural Health Center must complete an application. The website will be updated when the application period opens.
Current ORH Grant Opportunities
Grant opportunities available to current state designated sites: Rural Health MAP, Behavioral Health, Project Funds, Capital projects.
Dorothea Brock, Program Manager
Beth Blaise, Rural Health Operations Specialist - Regions 3 & 5
Kimberly R. McNeil, Rural Health Operations Specialist - Regions 4 & 6
Justin Kearley, Rural Health Operations Specialist - Regions 1 & 2