A Primer for Multi-Sector Health Partnerships in Rural Areas and Small Cities

Learn how rural communities and small cities can support health and equity through cross-sector collaborations between the community development, finance, public health and healthcare sectors, with this virtual primer from PHI’s Build Healthy Places Network.


Rural hospitals, clinics, and healthcare centers play a central role in rural areas and small cities, providing healthcare, jobs and avenues to economic stability. Community development corporations and community development financial institutions also play a critical role in the support and promotion of rural neighborhood development—bringing in needed capital to invest in the social determinants that impact the health, such as housing, health care, grocery stores and child care centers. This provides rural communities with an opportunity to guide cross-sector collaborations between the community development, finance, public health, and healthcare sectors to improve community health and wellness.

Find resources, tools, case studies and more to support rural communities and small cities in advancing partnerships between the healthcare and community development sectors, in this virtual primer from PHI’s Build Healthy Places Network.

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The primer provides an introduction to the healthcare and community development sectors, and explores how these partnerships can improve community health, wellness and equity in rural areas and small cities. It also includes a mini-tool box of Build Healthy Places Network’s existing resources to help facilitate cross-sector collaboration.

“There is an ‘interconnectedness’ and close-knit ties embedded in the fabric of rural and small city communities that supports community engagement and lends itself to multi-sector solutions that can bring meaningful change in a way that reflects the infrastructure and social network of the communities they are trying to serve.”

Because rural communities and small cities face unique challenges and opportunities in forging cross-sector collaborations to advance health and equity, the primer incorporates resources that reflect these realities in order to allow for locally-generated solutions.

Learn more about the community development, finance, public health, and healthcare sectors, and the opportunities for cross-sector collaboration; and explore a toolbox of resources to support practitioners on the ground—specifically designed for rural communities.

By applying cross-sector solutions to the root causes of health inequities, communities can strive to ensure that recovery incorporates adequate care for all across the country as well as within communities while embedding resilience into systems, approaches, and partnerships for challenges that lay ahead.

The Power of Cross-sector Partnerships: Reducing ER visits and reductions in emergency department costs through coordinated services

In 2016, DevNW, a rural and suburban community development corporation launched a health navigator program in partnership with InterCommunity Health Network Coordinated Care Organization to connect their affordable housing residents to healthcare and social services. The health navigation program increased resident access to healthcare services, early intervention services on evictions, improved communication between housing and social service providers, and focused on upstream solutions to staying healthy in the first place. Over the last four years, the town of Williamette Valley, Oregon has seen a 15% reduction in ER visits and a 19% reduction in emergency department costs per member per month. Their work also prevented 97 evictions.

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Originally published by Build Healthy Places Network

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New Public Health Primer: Engaging Community Development for Health Equity

How can the public health and community development sectors to work together to advance health and racial equity? A new primer from PHI’s Build Healthy Places Network and partners provides a roadmap for forging upstream partnerships, with recommendations, strategies and lessons-learned from national, state and local leaders.

Explore the primer

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