HRSA funding to benefit ETSU Health College of Nursing School-Based Health Centers in Hancock County

Published 10:15 am Monday, July 11, 2022

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JOHNSON CITY — East Tennessee State University has been awarded $400,000 in federal funding to expand services in two ETSU Health College of Nursing primary care clinics in Hancock County.

The Rural Expansion Program for At-risk Communities to Promote Health Outcomes through the Integration of Mental Health and Enabling Services (REACH ME) project is led by Dr. Kim Ferguson, assistant professor in the College of Nursing. It will address the critical need for the integration of mental health and enabling services in the provision of comprehensive care to children, youth, families and the community.

The two-year project, to be funded at $200,000 per year, is part of nearly $25 million awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), to improve and strengthen access to school-based health services in communities across the country. The Health Center Program Service Expansion: School-Based Service Sites Awards are intended to support local partnerships between schools and health centers to provide comprehensive care to the community.

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According to an HHS news release, health centers will use this funding to reduce disparities and improve access to care by increasing essential health care, including mental health services. Health centers will also use these funds for such activities as community and patient outreach, health education, and translation support.

“Our program seeks to add these much-needed services to ‘fill the gaps’ in health care that many communities across the nation are encountering,” Ferguson said. “The ability to offer these services to the community will deliver a unique access to care and provide a patient-centered approach.

“These clinics have a long-standing relationship in Hancock County and are some of the most distinctive in the nation, holding designations as federally funded qualified health centers and providing primary care services in a geographically isolated, rural and medically underserved area.”

The Hancock County Middle/High School-Based Health Center opened in 1995 to meet the need for pediatric physical examinations, developmental screening, health promotion and disease prevention programs, mental health counseling, laboratory testing, and referrals and follow-up. The Elementary School-Based Health Center opened about five years later. ETSU’s family nurse practitioners and other health care professionals at both clinics see patients of all ages to meet the community’s needs.

To learn more about these and other ETSU Health College of Nursing Community Health Centers, visit