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National Rural Health Day - Leadership Message from our Executive Director

posted Oct 12, 2017, 11:01 AM by Josie Maroney   [ updated Oct 13, 2017, 1:22 PM ]

National Rural Health Day

November 16, 2017 is National Rural Health Day. Please join the Rural Health Network of SCNY and rural health and health care providers across the United States in celebrating our rural communities, health professionals, hospitals, and clinics.

Here are just a few of many reasons why we celebrate and recognize our rural health practitioners and partners:

  • Health care professionals in rural America are able to focus on building personal relationships with patients and families.
  • Hospitals are the economic foundation of many rural communities. The 1,330 Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) provide essential health care to rural communities across 45 states and on average bring 204 jobs to the local economy.
  • New models for community health workers, community paramedics, and oral health professionals have been incubated in rural America as a model throughout health systems.

Of the 3500 certified Rural Health Clinics, 95% accept new Medicaid patients. Federally Qualified Health Centers are focal points for services to underserved rural populations and Veterans Health Administration Community Based Outreach Clinics work to improve the health of 40% of the nation’s veterans.

As a Rural Health Network, our organization understands that improving the health and wellness of rural people and communities requires working across sectors and involving all who are willing to help. The “can do” and neighborly spirit of rural America is a strong foundation for improving rural but there are still many challenges confronting the continued delivery and improvement of health care in our rural communities, including:

  • Rural workforce education and training programs are needed to help recruit, retain, and increase the number of well-qualified medical providers for rural residents, including veterans.
  • Rural hospitals remain vulnerable to closure. Critical Access Hospitals make up 30% of acute care hospitals but receive less than 5% of total Medicare payments to hospitals. More than 60% of CAH revenue comes from government payers. All payment reductions to Medicare or Medicaid have an enormous impact on CAH’s ability to provide access in rural communities.
  • Emergency medical services are mostly volunteer dependent but are vital in rural America where 20% of the nation’s population lives and nearly 60% of all trauma deaths occur.

In conclusion, I would also like to recognize the staff, Board of Directors, and volunteers of the Rural Health Network of South Central New York, Inc. (RHNSCNY). Every day, there are opportunities for different members of the RHNSCNY team to be the “rural voice” at a meeting, to serve someone struggling to understand and navigate a complicated health care system, or to help ensure that the health-related needs of rural people and communities are considered and included in county, regional, and state initiatives. Thanks to all at RHNSCNY, our partners, and our supporters for putting National Rural Health Day into practice every day.

Note: Much of the material in this article is taken directly from information provided by National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) in support of National Rural Health Day. If you would like more information on National Rural Health Day go to

- Jack Salo, Executive Director of RHNSCNY