NEW MADRID - Southeast Missouri residents and health
care officials could soon be sharing their views on
the medical needs for the area.
Southeast Missouri Health Network Inc., which is
headquartered in New Madrid, is one of eight
recipients sharing $5.28 million in grants designed to
improve access to primary care services in the Delta
region. The local health program was allotted
"This initiative will bring more primary health care
services to more people in the Delta, which has some
of the nation's highest rates of preventable disease,
disability and death," said Health and Human Services
Secretary Tommy G. Thompson in a news release
announcing the funding.
Missouri is one of eight states in the Delta Region
and has 29 counties included in the project. The
region, which also includes counties in Alabama,
Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi
and Tennessee, is characterized by high poverty and
unemployment, racial disparities in health and too few
resources to meet current health needs, according to
Jack Clingan, executive director for the Southeast
Missouri Health Network, said the funds will be used
to strengthen access to primary health care in the
Missouri region. He explained the process will begin
with the hiring of a director, who will strive to
develop an outreach network among the 29 designated
"We want to begin with better communication between
small hospitals, county health departments and the
public," said Clingan.
Clingan emphasized the grant program will seek to work
with the public and the medical communities. While the
program is still in its early stages - he is meeting
Wednesday with the Missouri Primary Care Association
to explain the program and get their input - he
suggested there will be town hall meetings and
gatherings with organizations to get input.
"We want to exchange ideas, see what we can do to
help," said Clingan. "We want to improve healthcare to
the medically underserved, low-income people."
The improvements, he said, can come in a variety of
ways ranging from facilitating transportation to
healthcare sites to better access to dental programs
to cost-saving ideas for medical providers. Other
possibilities would include the development of
community approaches to specific health problems or
the strengthening of emergency medical services.
Funds were awarded through competitive grants; the
amount of each award is based on the number of rural
Delta counties in each state. Clingan described it as
a honor for the Southeast Missouri Health Network to
be selected as a grant recipient.
"Our reputation has grown because of the care we are
able to provide the people of the Bootheel," he said.
The Southeast Missouri Health Network provides medical
and dental care in Scott, New Madrid, Stoddard,
Pemiscot, Mississippi and Dunklin counties through
clinics in New Madrid, Sikeston, Kennett, Bernie,
Portageville and Lilbourn.
In addition to the grant monies, the HHS initiative
includes $1 million to help small rural hospitals
improve their operations and financial performance.
According to HHS, in the Delta region, half of all
small rural hospitals are losing money with about 80
small rural hospitals in the eight-state region
eligible for assistance.