For children across the country, September means school time. For parents, if often means stress time: forms, care coordination, and tears over transition from free time to class time. In a small rural town in Cleveland County, North Carolina, local organizations decided that caring for children was a top priority. Yet health care access was high on the list of parent stressors and an obstacle to whole community health and well-being.

Sparked by conversations made possible by the Partnership for Community Prosperity (P4CP) coalition, local groups along with county decision makers worked collaboratively with their local pediatric provider group to launch a pilot telehealth program in their elementary school. By doing so, the coalition of partners paved the way for a local solution, driven by family voices and resulting in reduced emergency room visits, increased attendance in school and parents able to remain at work. This positive outcome was not without bumps in the road and extended time commitment from all involved. But it was worth it. Have a look at our new video about this pioneering program!

<p>Research shows that people living in rural areas have higher rates of premature death than those in urban counties and these rates are worsening, according to <a href=County Health Rankings. At the same time, we know that rural communities have assets that more urban and populous locales often lack: a tightly knit sense of community and pride. The North Carolina project detailed in our video – which features members of the P4CP and a family that uses the telehealth program – illustrates the power of local problem-solving to advance a shared community goal: that everyone can and should prosper. As a national consumer health advocacy organization, we see the value in collaborating with local efforts to advance equity and better health as a pathway to broader, more transformative and structural changes at both the state and national levels. To learn more about this initiative or other community-driven work, contact Eva Marie Stahl.