Rockingham County, NC

In the fall of 2018, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill partnered to form UNC School of Medicine’s new Primary Care Initiative. Made possible by an $800,000 investment from Blue Cross NC, the program  addresses a need for better access to health care in Rockingham County by increasing patient-centered primary care and recruiting more residents to enter health care professions in the county and the neighboring area. Along with UNC Health Care’s purchase of the former Morehead Memorial Hospital (now UNC Rockingham Health Care) in Rockingham County last year, the program will help prepare the region to expand its ability to provide health care in the rural community.

Program goals

Rockingham County’s rate of primary care physicians per capita is much lower than neighboring counties—39 percent lower than the state average of 7.6 physicians per 10,000 residents. The county has higher rates of heart disease, diabetes, chronic lower respiratory diseases, and cerebrovascular disease when compared to state averages. Recognizing the county’s need, Blue Cross NC invested $800,000 in the UNC School of Medicine Rural Advancement Program in 2018, and the North Carolina General Assembly, through the work of Senator Phil Berger, is augmenting this investment with additional funding.

The Rockingham County Primary Care Initiative works with key partners and stakeholders to develop a collaborative approach to meeting the county’s healthcare workforce needs. Broadly, the program has three main goals:

  • to meet with key stakeholders to understand the healthcare landscape and health priorities in Rockingham County;
  • to increase access to health care by growing the number of practicing healthcare providers in Rockingham County while supporting existing practices in improving quality of care in their practices; and
  • to prepare and recruit Rockingham County residents to enter future healthcare professions.

“Greensboro AHEC is a great partner to help with implementing these goals,” stated Sherry S. Hay, MPA, Director of Community Health Initiatives and Adjunct Assistant professor at UNC’s Department of Family Medicine. Hay is project manager for the Rockingham County Primary Care Initiative. “Dr. Cristy Page [Executive Dean of the UNC School of Medicine], whose leadership was instrumental in launching this program, identified Greensboro AHEC as a key partner on this initiative from the beginning.”

Partners & Stakeholders

Rockingham County Primary Care Initiative Key Partners and Stakeholders:

  • Community members,
  • Rockingham County Health Alliance,
  • James Austin Health Center,
  • Primary care practices,
  • Greensboro AHEC,
  • Rockingham County Health Department,
  • UNC Family Medicine,
  • UNC Physicians’ Network,
  • UNC Family Medicine Faculty Development Fellowship,
  • UNC Rockingham,
  • Annie Penn Hospital,
  • UNC Office of Rural Health Initiatives,
  • UNC School of Nursing
  • NC Office of Rural Health
  • School-based health centers in Rockingham County

One-Year Report

Learn more

Read more about ROCK PCI here: