Improving access for rural patients

Funded entirely by your generosity, the Ross McKnight Patient Pathways program launched earlier this year on our Temple campus.

Baylor Scott & White serves many population groups throughout the state, each with their own unique healthcare needs and barriers to care. The Ross McKnight Patient Pathways program—designed to meet the challenges faced by rural patients—is the latest effort in our ongoing commitment to serve the unique needs of patients and communities across Texas.

Many rural patients face challenges, such as:

  • Transportation
    Rural patients often have to travel long distances to access care. Many lack reliable transportation or are unable to bear the cost of travel and time away from work, especially for frequent appointments. 
  • Internet Access
    Rural areas are less likely to have the internet services and speeds needed to utilize virtual care options. Patients may also lack the knowledge or confidence to navigate internet-based care.
  • Poverty & Lack of Insurance
    Nationwide, both the poverty rates and rates of people without insurance are higher in rural areas than in urban areas. Without the means to pay for care or medications, many patients turn to the emergency room as their primary source of healthcare. In other instances, patients struggle to have their basic needs met, such as adequate food or housing, and their healthcare becomes a lower priority.

Texas is home to the largest rural population of any state. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rural Americans are more likely than their urban counterparts to die from heart disease, cancer, unintentional injury, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke—many conditions that are preventable or treatable with appropriate and consistent care.

However, many rural patients struggle to access the care they need. Their health issues worsen until they become unmanageable, leading to greater use of emergency and hospital services.

“Our ultimate goal is to keep patients as healthy as possible and out of the hospital,” says Katie Sciba, manager for Comprehensive Care at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center - Temple. “Through the Patient Pathways program, we reach out to those who are struggling to manage their own health for various reasons, find out what their individual challenges are, and connect them with resources to address those issues.”

The program launched in March 2022 at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Temple and has since served 67 patients living in Bell, Milam, and Falls counties. A dedicated patient navigator works with patients recently discharged from the hospital who live in rural areas to make sure they have the resources they need to manage their own healthcare. The patient navigator can help patients arrange rides to appointments, walk them through the process of gaining health coverage, or connect them with resources in the community, such as housing or food banks.

The program was named for Ross McKnight, a long-time member and former chairman of the board of trustees for Baylor Scott & White Health.

To learn more about how you can help, please contact Lori Luppino at 254-899-3771 or

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