Local Communities Empowered to Find Own Rural Health Solutions

WNC Bridge Foundation is working to advance health equity in Cherokee, Graham, and Swain Counties and the Qualla Boundary of the Eastern Band of Cherokee. Its project, WNC Health Partnership, will address systemic issues affecting under-served populations while empowering communities to take the lead in finding solutions to their health needs.

In collaboration with county managers, health department leaders, transportation coordinators, and other experts in the 3-county area, WNC Bridge Foundation received a grant of $760,700 from United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to implement WNC Health Partnership. Funding will broaden rural health care services for uninsured and under-insured county residents, with no age requirement. Vaccine clinics, providing medical equipment and supplies, telehealth services, and food distribution are the four areas WNC Health Partnership will support.

Sara Coplai, Special Initiatives Officer for WNC Bridge Foundation, who applied for the USDA grant explains, “The idea for WNC Health Partnership stemmed from the Foundation’s experience as a grant-maker the past three years and feedback from the communities where we work. These counties have some innovative solutions for increasing rural access to health care and health equity that we want to support with resource development as soon as possible. In addition, WNC Bridge Foundation can amplify the impact of our funds by leveraging them with other funders as a trusted financial management partner.”

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WNC Health Partnerships provides rural healthcare services for uninsured and underinsured residents in Cherokee, Graham, and Swain Counties. Photo provided by Vecinos.