by Teryl Eisinger, Executive Director, National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health
The third Thursday of November is National Rural Health Day in the United States. Nearly 60 million people live in rural communities across America. They count on their doctors, nurses, other health providers, and emergency first responders (many of whom are volunteers) to take care of their health and medical needs without fail.
The National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH), the 50 State Offices of Rural Health (SORH), and scores of national, state, and local partners will participate in National Rural Health Day on November 15, 2018. This day, recognized by proclamation by several governor’s offices across the United States, is an opportunity to honor the thousands of health professionals who dedicate their lives to serving the unique health needs of rural populations. Rural communities have a disproportionate share of chronic illness, poverty, and health care workforce shortages, as well as increasing hospital closures.
Rural health organizations and community groups will celebrate National Rural Health Day with events and activities planned across the country. From health fairs to school programs, legislative events, web-based learning sessions, and Twitter chats, there are many opportunities to join the celebration. To see a list of registered events, go to PowerofRural.org.
On National Rural Health Day, NOSORH will also publish its annual collection, Community Stars. This electronic book contains the heartfelt stories of over 70 dynamic, accomplished, and selfless rural health professionals, volunteers, and organizations — each nominated in honor of their tireless efforts and outstanding community service toward improved rural health access, quality, and outcomes. It will be available on our websites.
In addition to publishing Community Stars, NOSORH partners with Walk with a Doc, an international organization with over 400 chapters, which encourages physical activity for people of all ages. The aim is to reverse the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle and to improve health and well-being. We’ve planned National Rural Health Day Walk with a Doc events in several states and locations. For the full list of walks, as well as a free National Rural Health Day celebration idea guide and several easy-to-use promotional tools, check out our Community Stakeholder Toolkit.
NOSORH’s overarching goal is to bring attention to the fact that rural America can be a great place to live, work, and be a health care provider — and that high-quality care and innovation are prevalent in small hospitals, clinics, ambulances, and communities. Rural places include an estimated 60% of the counties in America. Rural networks of schools, emergency medical services, local public health departments, hospitals, and clinics are dedicated to addressing the health disparities in these areas.
While heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and substance use disorder are prevalent in rural areas, so too are community-based solutions that promote wellness, improve health care delivery models, and establish networks to connect smaller populations with right-sized rural health solutions. The Rural Health Information Hub (RHIhub) offers evidenced-based tools and solutions to support community leaders to grow initiatives to improve health in rural areas.
NOSORH invites all those with an interest in rural — be it health, business or education — to use our Partners & Collaborators toolkit to grow the movement and celebrate National Rural Health Day. We hope you’ll participate in some of the events planned for 2018. Be sure to use #PowerofRural in all your social media activities!