Experience of the Checkerboard Area Health System in planning for rural health care.
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Experience of the Checkerboard Area Health System in planning for rural health care.

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  • English

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    • Alternative Title:
      Public Health Rep
    • Description:
      The design of rural health care delivery systems often is based on concepts obtained from urban models. The implicit planning premises of successful urban models, however, may be inappropriate for many rural systems. An alternative model planned and implemented in the checkerboard region of rural northwest New Mexico has proved to be successful. This experience may be helpful to health care policymakers and planners confronted with environments that are not congruent with typical urban settings. The checkerboard region presented a challenging health planning environment characterized by formidable geographic, population, economic, and health behavior constraints. The Checkerboard Area Health System (CAHS), designed to provide comprehensive services in an area dominated by these constraints, was formed around a central diagnostic and treatment facility with six satellite clinics. The CAHS used an innovative administrative structure, extended the productivity of traditional providers by extensive use of mid-level and ancillary personnel, and created an effective referral network. These features are distinctly different from those of urban health care models. Overall, the CAHS attained a high rate of inpatient use. Additionally, the performance of the outpatient program indicates that traditional ambulatory care can be integrated with other health services that are more oriented toward health promotion and disease prevention. Finally, the emergency room at the central facility has attained an impressive record that, like the inpatient and outpatient areas, is responsive to the needs of the target population.
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