Southern Rural Access Program: William Hewitt

East Texas Southern Rural Access Program

Dates of Project: July 1997 to August 2009

Field of Work: Increasing access to health care in rural, underserved areas of eight Southern states.

Synopsis of the Work: The Southern Rural Access Program was a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that worked to increase access to health care in rural, underserved areas of eight southern states. The states recruited and retained rural primary care providers, offered programs to attract students committed to working in rural areas to the health professions and help prepare them for training programs, developed collaborative networks of rural health providers, and developed loan funds to help rural health providers improve their practices.

In Texas, one of the participating states, a key activity was the creation of the East Texas Health Access Network, a collaborative effort by 40 hospitals, social services agencies, and faith-based ministries health care, to improve care in five rural southeastern Texas counties.

Story Told: Due to his overall poor health, William Hewitt of Center, Texas, a 68-year-old retired manager of a chicken processing plant, needed to have his teeth removed in a hospital, at a cost well beyond his means. This sidebar recounts how the East Texas Health Access Network arranged for Hewitt to have his teeth removed and get new dentures, for out-of-pocket costs of just over $1,000. "I still don't know what would have happened without their help," say Hewitt, referring to the network. Read his story in the sidebar.