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There are seventy-eight hospitals in the state of Arkansas that serve patients of the white, Black / African-American, and Hispanic origin. ArkansasState has a population estimate of 2,915,918 people, with over 1,158,551 people living in the rural areas, where there are forty-nine hospitals (RuralAssistanceCenter, 2011). Out of the seventy-eight hospitals, twenty-eight of them are critical access, while another twelve are federally qualified health centers.
To ensure that the best health care services are offered, several people who come from across the state have shown that the initiative contributes to the growth of the health care services. This has been achievable through the proactive spirits among the interested individuals to shape up the future of Arkansas state health system (ArkansasCenter for Health Improvement, n.d). Therefore, among the major initiative activities, is to oversee the proactively shaping of the future of Arkansans health care system. This has been achievable through an initiative led by Dr. Joe Thompson, whose main goal is to implement a transformational program into ArkansansState, thus, improve the access to health care services to meet the needs of Arkansans residents.
In order to achieve the goal of building a health care system for the twenty first century in Arkansas, the Governor of the State initiated the strategic plan that would oversee the achievement of quality and affordable healthcare services. Notably, there is a description of options available for Arkansas’s best possible health workforce initiative. This is achievable using navigation, technology, and organization of care, as it gives recommendations on areas of improvement (Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, n.d). As a result, the strategic plan gives a road map to better health care provision and workforce-related entities all over the state. Because of the initiative, the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement recommended approaches that would oversee the establishment of a steady workforce. Therefore, the initiative led to the evolution of the Arkansas Health Workforce Strategic Plan.
According to the Arkansas Health Workforce Strategic Plan, it is critical for the Arkansas State to reduce the staff turnover. This will ensure that the hospitals and health care facilities in the rural areas have specialized staff that are competent enough in the medical field. As a result, the plan advocated for workforce education for both, those working in the health sector and those who intend to join the workforce (Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, n.d). In addition, there should be short-term training and development courses through a continuous process that refreshes the skills and expertise of the medical personnel in the Arkansas State health sector. It also advocates for the recruitment of more medical personnel. This would ensure that there is no deficit in the medical workforce, as the Arkansas State administration guarantees a consistent retention to reduce the staff turnover rate (Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, n.d). This is only achievable through giving the employees in the health sector incentives that are more attractive as compared to other private health facilities. The Arkansas Health Workforce Strategic Plan insists on a clearly structured workforce plan in order to ensure efficient distribution and coordination of the existing health workforce in the health care centers.
Some improvement activities include the efficient use of health information technology, while also planning for the health benefits exchange. The planning of crucial activities to improve the health care services in Arkansas state include uplifting the health payment system to suit all patients from different income classes. This is because the rural areas have a poverty rate of 20.8 percent as compared to the urban area that stands at 17.2 percent (Rural Assistance Center, 2011). In addition, there is an underneath major strategic plan that will ensure a stable future health workforce all over the state.
With at least 19 percent of the Arkansas residents lacking health care services because of poverty, it is necessary for the state to provide affordable and accessible health care centers. As a result, there are seventy-two rural health clinics within Arkansas rural areas. Through the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging located in Little Rock, the state has been able to improve its care for the up surging number of older adults in rural areas (Claudia et. al., 2007). With the center’s establishment, the quality of care has improved, as it offers quality health care services to Arkansas older adults’ population. With most of the centers located in rural areas where the old live, the initiative has given a glimpse of hope to older adults, as they come from poor backgrounds.
The establishment of close association between the Arkansas Aging Initiative and local hospitals has overseen the setup of senior health clinics that offers geriatric primary and specialty care to the elderly adults across the rural areas where they reside. As a result, the senior health clinics are well equipped with specialists, as these sites have more than one physician and one advanced nurse. To ensure that the physicians at these sites are competent enough, they have to attain a minimum qualification of Certificate of Added Qualifications in geriatrics in order to work in the geriatric primary and specialty care center (Claudia et. al., 2007). In addition, the sites have other team members comprising of pharmacists, neuropsychologists, geriatric medical social workers, and nutritionists, to ensure that quality and efficient health care services are offered to the older adult patients from Arkansas State.
Through the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, there has been considerable improvement not only in the older patients, but also the young children. This is evident from its activities in the provision of physician staffing for primary healthcare in the Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH). As a result, the children who could not afford quality medical care, can access it without limit at the hospital (Claudia et. al., 2007). In addition, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, engages itself in research activities in the medical field, through the operation of Central Arkansas Veteran Healthcare System (CAVHS). As a result, the quality of health care services has improved in hospital and health clinical centers within Arkansas State.
Notably, the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement also offers primary staff for the workforce initiative of Arkansas State health system. This is because, the vision of achieving the a well-built health care system for the twenty first century in Arkansas cannot be possible without a workforce that will equip the health care system standards. As a result, strategic plan have been laid down through a directive from Governor Mike Beebe for the transformation of Arkansas health workforce (Claudia et. al., 2007). The participants of the initiative aim to oversee the buildup of a stable workforce in health care. The main participants include Dr. Dan Rahn and Dr. Paul Halverson, who work as Chancellor, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and State Health Director, Arkansas Department of Health respectively.
With a high level of unemployment rate of 9 percent in rural Arkansas, while the rate is at 7.2 percent in urban Arkansas, it indicates that the level of unemployment is high in Arkansas State when compared to the United States average rate. This is because the general level of unemployment in all over United States ranges from 9.2 percent in the rural areas and 9 percent in the urban areas (Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, n.d). This brings about a high poverty rate, which leads to lack of enough funds for individuals in Arkansas State to secure health insurance covers. It is hard for all individuals to access proper healthcare services, because they cannot afford to cater for their medical bills due to their poverty state.
With the current 2010 estimates, indicating 20.8 percent poverty rate in rural Arkansas, as compared with the 16.6 percent poverty rate in the rural US, it is understandable that the Arkansas State has a high poverty rate in the rural areas when compared to the general United States poverty rate (Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, n.d). Even in the urban areas, there is still a high rate of unemployment in Arkansas State as the poverty rate stands out at 17.2 percent when compared to 13.9 percent in the United States urban locality.
With most of the patients, especially the older patients from Arkansas State, coming from a poor background that cannot afford health care services, initiative have come up to help them. Notably, in Little Rock, Arkansas State, there are almost 13 percent of uninsured residents. As a result, the Arkansas State legislature passed an exemption to allow for collaborations in the legal and financial requirements that govern the health insurance entities in order to protect the publics and its resources. This includes, the Arkansas Aging Initiative that uses funding from the state through the Master Tobacco Settlement. It has, therefore, built the existent seven satellite centers of older patients. Hence, through this satellite centers, older patients with no health care covers get access to affordable quality health care services (Claudia et. al., 2007). Consequently, there has been an increase in the number of older patients visiting the clinics, with a record of over thirty six thousand patients in the year 2005.
As some residents of Arkansas State, cannot afford health insurance covers that will cater for the drugs they should acquire for treatment, the legislature of the Arkansas State has come up with means of subsidizing the pharmaceutical costs and expenditures to ensure that drugs are available to its residents. Therefore, for pharmacists to prescribe drugs, they have to acquire a collaborative practice agreement (CPA). This is through offering access of insurance products through three national plans that comprise of sixty-four in and out of state third party administrators, with the other two being large local plans (Center to Championing Nursing in America, 2010). In addition, Arkansas State residents who can afford health care services opt for self-insured plan that covers for 45 to 50 percent of the covered populations. Thus, to secure the interests of patients, the pharmacists are not allowed to prescribe some drugs, like liquid morphine to hospice patients.
With a lower level of education among the rural residents in Arkansas State, as 29.3 percent of the total rural population lack a high school completion certificate, it is necessary to offer them basic health care training (Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, n.d). As a result, Arkansas Aging Initiative through its sponsor, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences center, offers several avenues of health care education to the community. This health care education at convenient center offers the health care providers, caregivers, and families’ necessary skills required to ensure the proper care of, especially, the older patients is undertaken (Claudia et. al., 2007).
In my opinion, I would recommend the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences to carry on with its ambitious initiative that is meant to oversee the improvement of health care services provision to those living in poverty. In addition, the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement initiative through the strategic plan, to oversee reforms in the health care workforce and services offered in Arkansas health care facility should be initiated. However, the state legislature should oversee the improvement of the level of education and poverty in order to improve the status of its residents.
Indeed, Arkansas State legislature, through its governor, shows initiation of improvement. There is hope for the growth of the state’s health system to provide high quality services. It is, therefore, necessary for the administration and stakeholders to initiate the strategic plan that will oversee a better health care system of the twenty first century. In addition, the state should also give the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences more funding for it to reach out to the residents of Arkansas, especially the rural areas.