The Center of Excellence

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The Center of Excellence in Rural and Minority Health

The Center of Excellence in Rural and Minority Health was established on the campus of Voorhees College (a Historically Black College) in rural Denmark, South Carolina to focus its activities on improving access to health care services and eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities.  The Center evolved from the premise that in order to make a difference in the lives of rural and minority populations, at least three criteria should be met.  The Center should: 1) be located in a rural community; 2) be linked with HBCU’s and 3) integrate clinical services, health education, behavioral health, and research. 


MISSION
The mission of the Center is to improve the accessibility to quality health care for African-Americans and other minorities and eliminate disparities that have plagued this vulnerable population for decades.    


MAJOR COMPONENTS
The Center is composed of three major components:  Clinical Services; Educational Services; and Research.  All three components are essential for changes to occur.

Clinical Services:  Clinical services is one of the primary functions of the Center and greatly reduces the need for emergency and in-patient care.  The scope of services includes a comprehensive array of services such as primary and preventive clinical care, podiatry, dentistry, prenatal care, pediatrics, and pharmacy services.  Provisions are made to offer extended hour services, specialty care, and home based care.  These services have been funded by a grant from the Bureau of Primary Health Care. 

Educational Services:  Educational Services are another primary function of the Center.  The Center serves as an interdisciplinary training site for health career students of the partner institutions.  Practical application of the health care training in the rural setting will help students and residents gain exposure to and sensitivity of the unique challenges and opportunities.  The Center works to develop a faculty that will adequately meet the needs of the community and allow for expansion of new programs and experiences.  The education component supports increased collaboration among the partners that will provide:  Health care opportunities for minority and disadvantaged students; exchange programs for students and faculty; and a greater understanding of minority health issues in a rural setting. 

The health education component of the Center provides basic health guidelines through seminars, health fairs, brochures and the internet.  Health information highlights the six targeted disease areas (Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, HIV/AIDS, Immunizations and Infant and maternal Mortality) and will be expanded to include over 190 of the most common health problems. 

Research:  Another vital component of the Center is Research.  A minority focused research center has been established for the primary purpose of the collecting and analyzing data, serving as a valuable resource to policy makers, health care administrators, planners, providers, educators, and advocates.  This Center conducts and disseminates policy relevant analyses on issues of state and national significance in the areas of health care access and racial/ethnic health disparities.  To facilitate goal attainment, the Center of Excellence reaches out to the community to develop a collaborative partnership rooted in trust and mutual respect.  The faith-based community is extremely important in addressing the health issues, especially in African-American communities.  

Voorhees College is located in rural Bamberg County, one of six counties in the federally designated SC LowCountry Promise Zone.  there are only 22 areas in the United States designated as Promise Zones and the SC Promise Zone is only 1 of 4 rural promise zones.  The rurality of Bamberg County and surrounding areas  complicates the level of “distressed" through the region. High unemployment, low educational attainment, high drop out rate, high teen pregnancy, and other risk factors characterize all of the counties in the South Carolina Promise Zone.

For additional information on the Center, contact Wesley L. Boykin, Ph.D., M.P.H. at (803) 780-1349 or wboykin@voorhees.edu.