Today is National Rural Health Day! Did you know about 57 million people (almost 1 in 5 Americans) live in rural communities?
Rural hospitals are more than the traditional hospital model. They provide a community hub for local health care services and access to primary care and emergency services, and a bridge to specialized care outside the community. And, rural hospitals face a variety of unique challenges, including a lack of available providers, accessibility challenges, declining reimbursement rates and ever-changing community needs.
Despite these challenges, hospitals in rural Washington consistently provide access to essential health care services. Without these important community resources, many may not have access to health care at all.
We are celebrating in the office with a screening of The Providers, a documentary that follows three health care providers in northern New Mexico as they work to reach rural patients who would otherwise be left out of the health care system. Our rural team will also lead a staff discussion about the challenges our rural hospitals face and how WSHA works to support them.
I am honored to collaborate with our rural hospitals to provide compassionate care to their patients and serve their greater communities. We work with members to address issues that disproportionately impact rural areas, including promoting breast cancer screening for early detection and better outcomes, preventing adverse drug events, fighting the opioid crisis, sharing diabetes management resources and increasing access to funding opportunities.
Our work also includes legislative advocacy on the state and federal levels. I recently traveled to D.C. for Rural Advocacy Days. Leaders and board members from 10 of our rural hospitals and health systems joined me. Together, we worked to build relationships with our congressional delegation while advocating on important issues like payment for rural hospitals.
I look forward to continuing to work with our members to ensure that rural Washingtonians have access to affordable, patient-centered care. If you would like to get involved in our work, please check out our website or reach out to me!