Even though Orange County is home to a major North Carolina hospital, some rural residents still have limited access to health care.
These rural areas are typically concentrated in the northern part of the county. A 2015 report by the Orange County Health Department and Healthy Carolinians of Orange County listed lack of medical insurance, clustered health care resources in the south, inadequate transportation, language barriers and perceived discrimination as primary causes of this health care disparity.
“Access encompasses a number of factors including availability, affordability, adequacy and the like,” said Mark Holmes, director of the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research at UNC. “When we talk about access in Orange County, different elements may impact different parts of that continuum.”
Holmes said while the gap between northern and southern Orange County is not as bad as other health disparities in the state, the problems occur on a more individual basis.
“There's a lot of areas in the state that have strong health care systems. The problem is reaching the last mile and also providing baseline primary care,” said John Coggin, director of advocacy at the N.C. Rural Center. “Even if you have a hospital within an hour or two hours of your home, that doesn't necessarily mean that you can get that constant level of care you might need.”