Push for better health care access in Guilford County

GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — There’s a push for better health care access in Guilford County.

It’s a topic that’s come up in conversations between county leaders, including Thursday night’s county commissioners meeting.

The Hayden-Harman Foundation presented a proposal to county commissioners to put a resource hub at High Point’s former police station on Leonard Avenue. This is something that’s been in talks for the last year. The idea is to connect people to healthy food, health care and job training.

Commissioner Frankie Jones is also working with Cone Health officials to address the medical deserts in Guilford County.

“We see this in Guilford County in a number of communities,” said Jen Nixon, Cone Health’s interim director of health equity.

A lack of health care access and healthy food options are two issues that go hand in hand. One community dealing with the problem is Greensboro’s southeast side in the Randleman Road area.

Health care options are now more limited with the Evans-Blount Total Access Care Center ending primary care services. Less access to care means worse health outcomes.

“Conditions are harder to treat,” Nixon said. “They’re more expensive to treat. And the patient goes through more suffering and distress that could’ve been prevented.”

Cone Health leaders are trying to combat the issue by working to expand telehealth and making sure it’s user-friendly. Nixon said virtual visits are more popular than face-to-face care, particularly for those who don’t have transportation.

“We looked at our data and found that people in our rural communities were using it just as much as people close to the hospital because everyone is pressed for time,” she said.

The problem is not everyone has a computer and internet access. That’s why Nixon is trying to create partnerships with community organizations

“We want to be in places where people are already comfortable going,” she said. “We want to be in libraries. We want to be in communities. We want to have community health care workers visible.”

Greensboro City Councilwoman Sharon Hightower also brought up some of these issues at her town hall Tuesday night.

She said the city and county are working with community partners to address the medical and food deserts. The plans are in the beginning stages, but they’re looking forward to sharing more information soon.

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