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Health care reforms and population shifts in the 1980s saw the closing of rural hospitals and loss of health providers. To address this, state legislation created the Rural Health Network Demonstration Project in 1986 to band health care systems together and ensure regional coverage. Since then, many states have adopted the creation of Rural Health Networks. These “organizations of organizations” assist health care and related human service providers, consumers, local businesses, and government to coordinate of information, services, and planning around local health care needs.
The Steuben Rural Health Network, one of the original networks established in NYS, serves as the convener and facilitator for health-related initiatives for Steuben County. The network provides planning and communication, program administration and support, and data and resource development that increase members’ collaborative capacities to address community needs. In 2007, the IHS became the lead contract agency for the SRHN.
SRHN performs activities and fosters collaboration on issues identified in its annual Work Plan, approved by the N.Y. State Office of Rural Health. This plan is devised around health service trends defined by local member organizations.
The Network operates under a committee governance structure defined by current Work Plan priorities. Committees oversee the activities listed in the Work Plan, which are accomplished through subcommittees, or “Work Groups” specific to each activity. A committee that is in charge of several ongoing activities may have several Work Groups in operation at once. Committee members, however, choose the activities that they and their organizations feel are the best fit to their own talents and missions.
For more information, contact Jackie Woollett, Network Director, at 607.776.9467 ext. 226.