The major focus of the RHIC is on educating and training health care profession students to work together to provide high quality health care, particularly in Indiana's rural communities, where health care providers are urgently needed.
"Improving access to mental health services in rural areas has been identified by RHIC members as a significant area of need," President and Chief Executive Officer of Union Health System and Chairman of the RHIC Board of Directors David R. Doerr said. "We're excited to bring Hamilton Center to the table to help meet this need."
"Integrating primary and behavioral health in both planning and delivery of service provides an improved opportunity to better address an individual's total health needs and the health issues that face rural communities," Hamilton Center CEO Galen Goode said. "We are excited with the opportunity to participate with the esteemed members of the RHIC."
A recent study commissioned by RHIC partners and conducted by Indiana University School of Medicine's Bowen Research Center found shortages in almost every health care field in west-central Indiana. While nurses and physicians topped the list, significant shortages of psychologists, physical therapists, pharmacists, social workers, health educators, speech pathologists and physician assistants were also found.
Shortages of providers are particularly severe in Indiana's more rural areas. Sixty percent of Indiana counties (55 of 92) are located in rural or non-metropolitan areas. Twenty-six of the 55 rural counties in Indiana are partially or completely medically underserved or have shortages of health professionals. The designation indicates that residents in certain rural areas have fewer physicians than urban areas and a higher rate of unemployment, poverty and population 65-older.
Other primary members include Union Hospital and its Richard G. Lugar Center for Rural Health, Indiana State University, Indiana University School of Medicine, Ivy Tech Community College Wabash Valley, the City of Terre Haute, and the Terre Haute Economic Development Corporation. The RHIC also includes the Vermillion Parke Community Health Center as a supporting member.
For more information on Hamilton Center, log on to www.HamiltonCenter.org.