The Appalachian Rural Health Project in Chautauqua County, N.Y., 1973–78
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The Appalachian Rural Health Project in Chautauqua County, N.Y., 1973–78

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    Public Health Rep
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    The Appalachian Regional Commission awarded a 5-year grant to the Chautauqua County Department of Health to establish primary health care services to medically underserved rural areas of the county. Four clinics were opened at various stages as the project grew.What began as an open system multidisciplinary approach to the delivery of primary health care changed abruptly to a closed system in March 1976, when the county medical society members voiced a strong objection to the rural health project. Among other assertions, the medical society claimed that the clinics of the project were "too costly and unnecessary as they now exist." Equally strong voices of community people demanded that the project be allowed to operate. An unprecedented public hearing was held and, as a result, a compromise plan was developed that permitted the medical services of the clinics to be continued, but most of the multidisciplinary components devoted to social development were eventually dropped.By September 30, 1978, when the project grant ended, three of the four clinics had been taken over on a private basis by physicians who had previously been assigned to the clinics and supported by the project.The effects of grassroots support and power of the people in a community in determining their health rights and needs were demonstrated and documented in this pioneer program. It is anticipated that the Chautauqua County experience may be a helpful model in planning other projects that attempt to institute change in the health care delivery system in underserved rural areas.
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