Andrea Marcotte, vice president, chief medical officer and chief operating officer of WellOne Primary Medical and Dental Care, was recently named a Rural Health Champion by the R.I. Department of Health. Marcotte was recognized for her efforts to improve the supply, distribution, diversity and quality of the state’s health workforce, and to increase access to health care in medically underserved areas. She has worked for WellOne since 1997 and is the immediate past board president of the Northern Rhode Island Area Health Education Center. Marcotte is a family nurse practitioner and a gerontological nurse practitioner. She holds undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate degrees from Rhode Island College, Simmons College and George Washington University.
PBN: When it comes to health care, what are some of the issues that rural communities face?
MARCOTTE: The local availability of health care services in rural areas is limited, which presents access challenges for patients, particularly the elderly and others with transportation challenges. Public transportation is either limited or nonexistent, forcing many in need to forego basic, preventive, primary medical or dental care. Rural communities also often lack many specialty services such as radiology, cardiology, gastroenterology, etc.
PBN: How significant are these issues?
MARCOTTE: The lack of public transportation can be a burden for many of our patients when accessing services, particularly for those who reside in rural areas, such as Foster, where there is no bus or taxi service. When patients are unable to access timely preventative health care services, they are far more likely to have a poorer overall health status and are far more likely to ultimately seek care in costly, less-appropriate settings, such as hospital emergency rooms.
PBN: Can you share some of the efforts you’ve made to improve rural health issues?
MARCOTTE: To ensure that residents have access to the primary medical, dental and behavioral health care that WellOne offers, in 2008, we established a health center in Foster which serves as the only primary medical and dental-care provider in the town. We have [also] enhanced patient access at our Pascoag location through the expansion of the facility, staff and operating hours in order to respond to community need, [and] we are continuing to explore ways to create additional transportation options. •