An Interview with NCHN's New Associate Member Katharine Terrie

Oct 29, 2012 10:13 AM
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In October 2012, we welcomed Katharine Terrie, formerly with North Country Health Consortium, as an associate member. Find out more about NCHN's newest member in the interview below.
You have spent much of your career working with health networks. In your career with health networks, what lessons stand out for you the most and what have you learned about health networks that you would like to share?
KT: For the past 30 years, I have worked with organizations dedicated to improving access to health care in rural areas, first in Southern West Virginia and more recently in Northern New Hampshire. I have learned that in rural areas, which in most cases are synonymous with under-served areas, the most cost effective and cost efficient way to provide health care is for health care providers, including rural health clinics, community health centers, critical access hospitals, home health agencies and other providers of care to work in a collaborative fashion to serve their patients. Only when providers share resources within a network, can access be improved and health status indicators improve.

What are some of the qualities of health networks that are invaluable/irreplaceable?
KT: As stated above, the bulk of my experience is with rural health networks composed of safety net providers serving under-served populations. Safety network providers, specifically community health centers (whether FQHC or look alike) and critical access hospitals, have put the profit motive aside to concentrate on their patients – a trait not usually seen in a for-profit, private practice environment. Moreover, these for-profit providers are not usually interested in becoming part of health networks. Community health centers, and critical access hospitals whether in a formal network on simply dedicated to working together have the best chance of reaching the unserved and under-served populations residing in their service areas.

How did you come to work with health networks and what were some of the unique challenges your network/s faced?
KT: In 1978 I moved back to my home state of West Virginia from 15 years in Washington, D. C., to help implement the National Health Planning and Resource Development law which created state Certificate of Need programs, state health planning agencies and health systems agencies. Part of the intent of the National Health Planning law was to address improving access to health care through a collaborative effort dedicated to planning and allocating health care resources based on demonstrated need and a focus on improving access to health care through collaboration. Such collaboration was demonstrated through the strict requirements imbedded in federal law that all appropriate providers be represented on the boards advising the state health planning agencies and the health systems agencies operating within each state. In addition, Certificate of Need decisions made at the local level were required to be made by a cross-section of providers and consumers. In fact consumers were a part of the decision making process at all levels of state and local health planning carried out under the auspices of the National Health Planning law.

I spent ten years working for the state health planning agency and the health systems agency in West Virginia and then in a health system agency in Ohio until President Reagan repealed the law in 1986. One only has to look at the dramatic increases in the costs of health care after that time to understand that planning and allocating of health care resources in a collaborative environment worked. I have taken the many lessons learned during that time and have applied them to work as a private consultant to safety network providers in both West Virginia and New Hampshire and in ten years as the Director of Development for the North Country Health Consortium serving consumers and providers in Northern New Hampshire. Upon my retirement from the Consortium two years ago, I went back into the consulting business to write grants and provide management services to rural, not-for-profit health care and human service providers.

In what ways would you like to support health networks and in what ways can NCHN support you?
As an associate member of NCHN, I would like to share the expertise and experience with other rural health networks. I would also like to participate in the RHNR Consulting Program.

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