Improving Quality Health Care in Rural Communities

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

In an effort to increase awareness of rural health-related issues, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), along with the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health, is celebrating the second National Rural Health Day. Governor Pat Quinn proclaimed November 15, 2012, National Rural Health Day in Illinois to encourage residents to recognize the unique health care needs and opportunities in Illinois' rural communities.

Approximately 62 million people, or almost one in five Americans, live in rural areas of the United States. That includes more than two million Illinois residents. Yet only nine percent of all physicians and 12 percent of all pharmacists practice in rural communities.

"Many rural communities face challenges when providing quality health care, including accessibility – such as traveling long distances to a health care provider, a lack of health care providers in the area, the needs of an aging population suffering from a greater number of chronic conditions, and larger percentages of un- and underinsured citizens," said Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, state health department director. "National Rural Health Day is an opportunity for communities, health departments, doctors, hospitals and others, to come together to develop innovative approaches to address the health needs of rural communities."

Hospitals and health care providers serving rural communities not only provide quality patient care, but they also help keep good jobs in rural Illinois. Hospitals are economic engines in their communities with every dollar spent generating approximately $2.20 for the local economy.

The IDPH Center for Rural Health offers consultation and technical assistance to health care consumers and providers to help them identify health care issues, discuss potential solutions, and develop and implement plans of action. The center is a vocal advocate, both in Illinois and nationally, that works to educate policy makers and the public about the problems rural communities experience in their efforts to maintain and enhance health care access.

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