Colorado Rural Health Center Celebrates National Rural Health Day

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The Colorado Rural Health Center joined members, partners and other state and national rural stakeholders to “Celebrate the Power of Rural” during the third annual National Rural Health Day celebration.

Rural health providers are facing a myriad of challenges in today’s ever-changing healthcare landscape, says Michelle Mills

National Rural Health Day was observed on Thursday, November 21st as an opportunity to raise awareness of the unique healthcare issues facing rural communities throughout the United States.

The National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) created Rural Health Day as a way to showcase the good works of America’s nearly 60 million rural citizens and promote the efforts of state offices of rural health and others in addressing the healthcare needs in rural areas.

Events recognizing National Rural Health Day were held throughout the nation. NOSORH hosted a national press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC with some of the nation’s top leaders invited to speak.

Dr. Mary Wakefield, Administrator for the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration discussed her longstanding personal and professional appreciation for both the healthcare challenges, as well as the opportunities that are present in rural areas.

Dr. Wakefield, a native of North Dakota said, “While there are clearly unique challenges in rural – there are also seeds of innovation continuously sewn in rural healthcare, and they are seeds that grow into new approaches to longstanding concerns impacting rural communities.”

Under Secretary of Agriculture Doug O’Brien also spoke during the press conference. “Rural America is critically important to the future of this country,” said O’Brien, adding “There are huge opportunities in rural.”

In Colorado, the Colorado Rural Health Center (CRHC) spearheaded Rural Health Day activities. “Rural health providers are facing a myriad of challenges in today’s ever-changing healthcare landscape,” said Michelle Mills, Chief Executive Officer at the CRHC.

Rural communities face a lack of healthcare providers and affordability issues resulting from larger percentages of un-/underinsured citizens and greater out-of-pocket health costs.

In light of these obstacles the healthcare needs of rural citizens are as unique as the communities in which they live. Those needs cannot be addressed by utilizing a generic “one size fits all” approach – programs and policies must be flexible enough to allow rural communities to identify and address the unique needs of their residents.

Governor John Hickenlooper issued a Proclamation declaring November 21st Colorado Rural Health Day. “Our goal at the state level is to increase general awareness about healthcare in rural Colorado,” said Michelle Mills.

“Healthcare delivery in the US is changing by leaps and bounds,” added Mills. Rural hospitals and healthcare practices are the economic foundation of their communities. In addition to typically being the largest employers, these providers strengthen the economic health of their communities by ensuring a healthy workforce.

There were many achievements to endorse during this year’s Rural Health Day. For instance, over a dozen rural hospitals were recently recognized by iVantage Health Analytics as HealthStrongTM award recipients for excellence in patient satisfaction, efficiency, outcomes, quality and overall excellence.

“Receiving this award validates the quality of care that rural providers in Colorado provide to patients and is also a testament to the commitment and dedication of their medical and nursing staff that impact patients every day,” added Mills.

Rural hospitals receiving recognition include, Arkansas Valley Regional Medical Center; Aspen Valley Hospital; East Morgan County Hospital District; Estes Park Medical Center; Family Health West Hospital; Grand River Medical Center; Gunnison Valley Hospital; Heart Of The Rockies Regional Medical Center; Keefe Memorial Hospital; Pagosa Mountain Hospital; Pikes Peak Regional Hospital; Pioneers Medical Center; Prowers Medical Center; Rio Grande Hospital; San Luis Valley Regional Medical Center; Southwest Memorial Hospital; Valley View Hospital Association; and Yampa Valley Medical Center.

To promote awareness, CRHC hosted an open house celebration at their offices in Aurora. “We wanted to open our doors to our urban partners and others interested in learning more about our programs and services,” says CRHC’s Director of Outreach and Workforce Melissa Bosworth.

For further information about National Rural Health Day visit celebratepowerofrural.org.

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Bridgette Olson, Outreach Program Manager

Melissa Bosworth, Director of Outreach and Workforce
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