The South Carolina Office of Rural Health (SCORH) announced 26 funding awards to address COVID-19 health disparities and support local health equity initiatives in rural communities. The grants, totaling $725,556, were awarded in three categories – vaccine confidence, rural community health equity, and digital equity.

The grants were awarded through South Carolina’s Health Equity Initiative, part of a national program the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) supported with funding through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. SCORH and the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC) are partners in this work to address COVID-19 health disparities among high-risk and underserved populations, including racial and ethnic minorities and rural residents.

“SCORH is proud to be a part of South Carolina’s Health Equity Initiative,” said Program Manager Andrew Chandler, who oversees the effort for SCORH. “The partnership with DHEC allows rural communities and their residents to address local health issues magnified by the effects of COVID-19.”

Vaccine confidence grants allow rural health providers to implement vaccination outreach projects, including vaccine promotion, making vaccines accessible, developing educational materials and training, or providing storage units to house vaccines. Funding for vaccine confidence projects, totaling $90,000, was awarded to nine rural healthcare providers.

  • Bamberg Family Practice
  • Blythewood Medical Associates
  • Carolina Pediatric and Adolescent Care
  • Coastal Plains Primary Care
  • Fairfield Medical Associates
  • Lovelace Family Medicine
  • Regional Medical Center of Orangeburg and Calhoun Counties
  • Smith Medical Clinic
  • James Health and Wellness

Rural community health equity grants support projects that that advance health equity and address social determinants of health as they relate to COVID-19 health disparities. Selected projects demonstrate the ability to improve community-level policies, systems, or environments. Ten awardees received a total of $586,474 for these initiatives:

  • Williams Rush, LLC
  • Clarendon County Council on Aging
  • Impact York County
  • Marion County Coordinating Council
  • New Alpha Community Development Corporation
  • Pick 42 Foundation
  • Self Regional Healthcare
  • South Carolina Association of Community Action Partnership
  • Upper Midlands Rural Health Network
  • Wholespire Laurens County

Rural digital equity grants support projects that utilize digital resources to address COVID-19 related health disparities, boost rural economic development and contribute to the overall health of a rural community.  Seven grants, totaling $49,082, were awarded to digital equity projects:

  • Barnwell County Career Center
  • Bamberg Family Practice
  • Kingstree Lions Club
  • NFT Museum, LLC
  • South Carolina’s Rural Innovation Network
  • Southern Palmetto Regional Chamber
  • Town of Lane

“These funds allow communities to use innovative approaches to address both health and social factors,” Chandler said. “These activities not only improve the health and wellbeing of rural communities in the present, but they build the capacity for the future, beyond COVID-19.”

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About the South Carolina Office of Rural Health

The South Carolina Office of Rural Health (SCORH) is a non-profit organization with a mission to close the gap in health status and life expectancy between rural and urban communities in the Palmetto State. SCORH has been promoting investment, opportunity and health within rural communities since 1991.