Texas is one of the most urban and most rural states in the country. Rural Texas, for that matter is comprised of over 3.2 million residents spread over a geographic area the size of France! Our organization has been blessed for the last 25 years to be the principal voice and advocate for the rural and community hospitals all across our great state. Along with our partners at the Texas Association of Rural Health Clinics and the Northwest Texas Hospital Association, we want to wish all of the many rural healthcare leaders, providers and stakeholders an enjoyable #NationalRuralHealthDay 2015. This is the one day a year that we callout the contributions that are made every day to improve the health of rural Americans by these dedicated professionals.
In a time of great change, we often look to those on the cutting edge for direction. However, when it comes to rural areas, we often lead from the bottom up; drawing from what it is that we do best: caring for our fellow man, holding firm to our values and traditions and routinely employing a genuine ‘can do’ spirit. While the healthcare marketplace is shifting, we feel rural hospitals and providers are poised to lead the way and to succeed in the future delivery system. TORCH is channeling that energy into new programs around population health. We hope that rural providers will want to learn more about these opportunities and to get in on the ground floor of this evolutionary effort to strengthen rural healthcare in Texas for the long term.
U.S. Census data show that the 2,000 or so rural and nonurban hospitals that serve the rural population treat a patient base that is generally older, sicker, and less affluent than their urban counterparts. By focusing on the health of the population in the years ahead, we feel we can preserve what’s best about rural healthcare facilities, while at the same time bringing improved quality of life to rural people and communities. Not only that, but with the recent spate of hospital closures, preserving healthcare in rural communities means preserving jobs and economic stability in these areas as well. The food, fuel and fiber that Americans depend on comes largely from rural areas. In order to meet the needs of our growing country, we must have a healthy and dependable rural workforce.
So what’s the big takeaway from all this talk about the future of access to care and rural economic viability? Well, please take a moment today to remember and thank those people you know who make it their life’s pursuit to provide life-saving healthcare services to our family and friends in rural areas. Then on the other 364 days of the year, be sure to do whatever you can to shop local for your own healthcare needs, to promote the creation of sound healthcare policy that recognizes the unique needs and issues of rural healthcare providers and to urge your elected officials to support legislation that will help save rural hospitals and support rural communities. If you’ll do that, we promise that you will have helped to move rural healthcare forward in the year ahead.
For those of you with a penchant for social media, let’s all do our part to get #NationalRuralHealthDay ‘trending’ this year. Use this hashtag as a rallying cry on November 19th and be sure to share with all of your connections, friends and followers why you feel rural healthcare is such an important part of the fabric of life for all Americans. Many other resources can be found at http://celebratepowerofrural.org/.
Lastly, please be sure and send us pictures and stories from your own rural healthcare celebrations. You will find us on both Facebook and Twitter by searching for ‘torchnet’, so please join us and we hope that you have a fantastic #NationalRuralHealthDay, everyone. Go Rural!