Center for Advancing Rural Health Equity

We need strong relationships supported by community wisdom, data, health expertise, continuous learning and communications to make changes so each person can be as healthy as possible. This is why Dartmouth Health launched the Center for Advancing Rural Health Equity (CARHE).

Our vision is that everyone living in rural communities has the chance to thrive, feel safe and be welcomed.

Our mission is to make sure that people in rural areas have the chance to live healthy lives, by learning and acting together in our rural communities.

To achieve our mission and realize our vision, these values are a part of everything we do:

  • Commitment: There are certain hurdles that make it harder for some people to get the care and support they need to be healthy. We commit to working with our rural neighbors to eliminate these unfair difficulties and harms.
  • Action: We respond quickly when our communities are in need. We take action to make sure support systems work for everybody. We listen, learn and make decisions together to help everyone in our rural communities have a fair shot at living their healthiest life.
  • Respect: We value every person’s experiences and strengths. We earn trust by listening and taking the time to understand one another. We reach out to people who are unsupported and try to prevent the discrimination that divides our communities. Every person deserves honesty, fairness and respect.
  • Humility: We recognize the harms done to some members of our rural communities. We try to earn trust and restore hope where it is lacking. We respect every person’s unique life experiences and identities, including experiences of discrimination and oppression. We promote services that are welcoming, easy to use and offer the best health and care possible.

Based out of Population Health at Dartmouth Health, CARHE brings together four pillars of work—healthcare redesign, research, community action and education—all with the goal of making sure everyone has a fair shot at a healthy life, no matter who they are or where they live:

  • Healthcare redesign: Translating knowledge into practice to meet the needs of our populations
  • Research: Community-engaged research, creating evidence to inform practice
  • Community action: Community and health system partnerships responsive to local needs
  • Education: Training, learning, and the sharing of knowledge

CARHE’s work is just beginning. Read below to learn about our progress so far, and stay tuned for more updates.

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CARHE brings together four pillars of work: healthcare redesign, research, community action and education
CARHE brings together four pillars of work: healthcare redesign, research, community action and education.

What do we mean by rural health equity?

Rural health equity means that all people living in rural areas are able to live their healthiest life possible. This includes living a life free from discrimination and unfair treatment as well as having access to healthcare and social services, safe neighborhoods and places to live, reliable transportation, healthy foods, working wages that support basic needs, and community policies that are fair to all people.

Why focus on rural communities?

  • Rural populations are older and sicker than many populations in urban areas and have higher rates of poverty.
  • It can be hard for people in rural communities to socialize and build support networks.
  • Ensuring fair access to health and healthcare for people of color and people who experience barriers in our society because of their identity can be particularly challenging in a rural area, where the number of people who share that identity may be small or widely dispersed throughout a region.
  • Our rural geography makes it hard for health systems to reach everyone who needs care.

Why now?

The situation for rural communities worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many rural families in New Hampshire and Vermont are struggling to afford food, find housing, build social networks, connect to technology, and access transportation. All of these things impact a person’s health.

The CARHE planning team

A six-month co-design process between January and June 2022 brought together diverse team members to shape the Center for Advancing Rural Health Equity. Planning team members were chosen for their expertise, knowledge and willingness to tackle big ideas in pursuit of health for rural populations. Representation on the planning team included:

Read the CARHE stakeholder report (PDF)

CARHE news

Contact us

To learn more about CARHE contact:

Sally Kraft, MD, MPH
Vice President, Population Health
Dartmouth Health
sally.a.kraft@hitchcock.org