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Health Connect

What is HealthConnect? 

HealthConnect provides a comprehensive, interactive process designed to improve local health care access, and help communities understand the importance of local health care. While it can be customized to any community, county, or region, the process typically begins with an economic impact analysis of the local health care industry in a community. The analysis offers an understanding of just how vital the local health industry is to the local economy. 

A health care survey of area residents is used to gain insight into residents' perception of the quality of health care available to them right in the very communities they call home.

In addition, a health resource directory is developed to promote the health services available in the local area. This overview of services is gathered through a health care provider survey distributed to all entities associated with local health care.

The summary of findings from the survey and study results is unveiled to the local residents through a community forum. These forums are public meetings where local residents have an opportunity to voice priority recommendations as input for the strategic planning process.

The local HealthConnect planning team then participates in a strategic planning retreat to develop a vision-to-vision plan to address health concerns for their community. Further studies may originate from the strategic plan that address the feasibility of providing nonexistent services or increase services that are currently limited within the local community.

Participation in the HealthConnect process encourages a sustainable plan for the future of a community's vital health care system.

Why was HealthConnect developed? 

The strain on a health care infrastructure is felt locally as health services are slowly leaving the State of Mississippi. It is critical to address these infrastructure needs in a timely and industrious manner.

The HealthConnect program resulted from an effort between Mississippi State University Extension Service and a network of four East Central Mississippi counties to improve access to community-based health care.

Mississippi has high rates of death, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, infant mortality, and obesity. In addition, many Mississippi counties fall well below the nation's poverty rate.

What are the components of HealthConnect? 

  • Economic Impact Analysis
  • Health Care Directory
  • Community Health Survey
  • Health Care Providers Survey
  • Community Forum
  • Strategic Planning Retreat
  • Balanced Scorecard
  • Leadership Development Training
  • Health Care Vision-to-Action Plan
  • Feasibility Studies 

Is it for my community? 

In rural America, doctors are leaving and hospitals are closing. HealthConnect can plan a critical role by empowering local citizens to take control of their health infrastructure in these uncertain times. The health, economic, and social well-being of these communities is strongly linked to the vitality of the local health care industry.

Research shows that the health care sector often provides 10 to 15 percent of the jobs in many rural counties. Furthermore, if the secondary benefits of those jobs are included, the health care sector can account for 15 to 20 percent of all jobs. In fact, hospitals are often second only to school systems as the largest employer in rural counties.

Studies also indicate that business and industry prospects look at the quality of the local school and health care systems before deciding to locate in a particular area. Retirees tend to look at a community's safety and the quality and availability of health services before relocating.

HealthConnect gives communities the tools they need to formulate a plan to address critical health care issues necessary to improve the quality of life for their residents. The plan can include such tools as community grants which in turn fosters economic development.

How does a community get started? 

HealthConnect is a community interactive process designed to bring awareness and highlight the importance that health care has on communities. Local representatives from all sectors are encouraged to join the steering committee that brings this program to any community. Local health care officials, media representatives, civic leaders, community college personnel, health department officials, and faith-based representatives are just some of the many representatives often invited to participate in this effort. It is essential for any community to be inclusive in its attempt to address local health care concerns.

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News

A woman and a man pose in front of shopping bags and blue crates.
Filed Under: Rural Development, AIM for CHangE November 24, 2021

DREW, Miss. -- The small Delta town of Drew in the heart of Sunflower County has created a private, public and academic partnership to fight food insecurity.

For its efforts, the town recently received a big new honor, along with funding to advance ongoing health equity improvements. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) last month awarded Drew and nine other communities the 2020–2021 Culture of Health Prize, along with $25,000.

Filed Under: Community, Rural Development November 22, 2021

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- A team led by a Mississippi State University unit has been recognized on the national level for its contributions to race relations.

The Coming Together for Racial Understanding (CTRU) project received the 2021 National Diversity in Extension Award from the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, Cooperative Extension and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

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Filed Under: Rural Development, Rural Health November 15, 2021

While National Rural Health Day is celebrated Nov. 18, the Mississippi State University Extension Service works daily to build and maintain this personal and community-level commodity.

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Filed Under: Field Scale Crop Assessment with Drones, Rural Development, Technology May 7, 2021

From computer programs that regulate moisture sensors to smartphone apps that allow growers to monitor market data, most facets of agriculture continue their shift to digital platforms. This transition makes reliable internet access no longer a luxury, but a necessity.

Despite Mississippi agriculture’s annual economic impact of around $7 billion, broadband infrastructure is in short supply in the state’s densest agricultural hub: the 19-county Mississippi Delta.

Filed Under: Economic Development, Rural Development April 19, 2021

John J. Green is bringing a career immersed in Southern sociology and community development to his new position as director of the Southern Rural Development Center headquartered at Mississippi State University.

Success Stories

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Agriculture, Forages, Community, Rural Development, Food and Health, Health, AIM for CHangE, Nutrition
Volume 7 Number 3

Extension/Research Professor Named Co-Investigator on $1 Million Grant

The Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program recently announced a $1 million research and education grant. 

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Community, Economic Development, Rural Development
Volume 7 Number 3

Extension helps town secure grant funding to land local grocery

From 2017 to 2021, living in Quitman County meant driving nearly an hour to Batesville and back to buy groceries.

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Rural Development, Food and Health, Food, Rural Health
Volume 3 Number 1

Extension food pantry serves rural community 

On Tuesdays and Thursdays before lunch, Robert Jamison is usually exercising with people who have been his neighbors in Lambert for 30 years. The Quitman County Veterans Service Officer also volunteers for a food pantry there that serves about 800 local families every other month. The county does not have a grocery store, but the pantry, since it opened in 2014, has helped people in need.

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Community, Rural Development
Volume 2 Number 3

Lower Delta Partnership teams with Extension to attract more visitors 

When the Lower Delta Partnership coordinator sat down with the Mississippi State University Extension Service county coordinator, the two were meeting for more than just an everyday business lunch.

An elderly woman wearing animal print glasses and a bright red shirt stands smiling. Photo credit: Kevin Hudson
Community, Economic Development, Leadership, Rural Development
Volume 6 Number 1

Before Ann Tackett helped establish a farmers market and renovate the old railroad depot building in her town, she just wanted to start a cannery.

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