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Throughout Kentucky, in both rural and urban areas, UK HealthCare is collaborating with health care providers to keep patients closer to home for all but the most specialized and complex care. In rural areas, this means collaborating closely with community hospitals — enabling residents to receive appropriate health care in their local communities and providing a broad range of advanced subspecialty care so Kentuckians won't have to travel outside the Bluegrass for medical care.

One example of successful collaborative care is the UK Comprehensive Stroke Affiliate Network with affiliates located at the Hazard ARH Regional Medical Center, Georgetown Community Hospital, Harrison Memorial Hospital, Pattie A. Clay Regional Medical Center, Rockcastle Regional Hospital and Respiratory Care Center, Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital, St. Claire Regional Medical Center, and in Louisville at Norton Healthcare.

As part of the network, UK's Comprehensive Stroke Center partners with community and regional hospitals to develop community-based stroke programs for hospital staff as well as community members. "By educating members of the community and Emergency Medical Services personnel in the region, we provide valuable information about recognizing the signs of stroke and the importance of early treatment," said Dr. Michael R. Dobbs, director of the UK Comprehensive Stroke Program and interim chair of the UK Department of Neurology. "Our affiliate hospitals teach us about their communities and their patients. Meanwhile, we provide access to the resources and knowledge we have as an academic medical center."

UK's Gill Heart Institute also is partnering to deliver the highest quality and state-of-the art cardiovascular care to residents of Eastern Kentucky through its efforts with Appalachian Regional Healthcare. Together UK and ARH administer and manage cardiovascular services at Hazard ARH Regional Medical Center, Harlan ARH Hospital, Whitesburg ARH Hospital, McDowell ARH Hospital, Mary Breckinridge ARH Hospital, and Williamson ARH Hospital.

"This partnership furthers the UK HealthCare mission to improve access to high quality health care for all Kentuckians in a cost effective manner," said UK Executive Vice President for Health Affairs Dr. Michael Karpf. "But the greatest impact for patients and their loved ones will be the ability to stay close to home for complex cardiology care."

Overall, UK HealthCare has 163 affiliate or outreach sites in Kentucky as well as in Huntington, West Virginia. One of the most expansive collaborative efforts is with Norton Healthcare in Louisville. Health care teams from both health systems are working to provide care for patients who need advanced specialty services such as bone marrow transplants, solid organ transplants, onco-fertility services, pediatric neurosurgery and treatment of epilepsy and memory disorders among others.

"By having these collaborative relationships and developing a well-integrated health delivery system, we not only further our goal of keeping citizens close to home for appropriate care we also preserve capacity in our facilities for the most critically injured and complex patients", said Karpf. "Additionally, this collaborative network allows us to respond to a changing health care environment by providing the utmost high-quality, cost efficient health care."