Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Thursday is National Rural Health Day, a time to understand challenges and appreciate rural health-care providers

Thursday, Nov. 18 – tomorrow – is National Rural Health Day, an annual observance conducted by the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health. The fact that there are such offices, and a federal counterpart, illustrates the longstanding challenges of getting and delivering health care in rural areas.

National Rural Health Day helps explain those challenges to the rest of the country, but it also honors the contributions and sacrifices of health-care providers who choose to work in rural places, many of which have a shortage of providers. They also have older populations that have more chronic conditions, and larger shares of uninsured and under-insured residents.

There is increasing concern about rural hospitals, which are usually important employers in their communities but are increasingly in danger of closing as populations dwindle and some states haven't expanded Medicaid. Ongoing research at the University of North Carolina says 137 have closed since 2010, 97 of them completely. The others were "converted closures," eliminating in-patient care, but offering some services, such as primary care and skilled nursing care.

More information about rural health and National Rural Health Day:

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