Governor Branstad will sign a proclamation on Thursday, November 14 designating November 21 as Rural Health Day 2013. National Rural Health Day is an opportunity to honor small towns, farming communities and rural areas, and also to highlight the unique challenges the individuals who live in these areas face. In Iowa, 90 percent of the land mass is considered rural, and approximately half of Iowans live in an area that is considered rural.
“Iowa’s rural communities are wonderful places to live and work - they are places where people know each other, listen to and respect each other, and work together to benefit the community,” said Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director, Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks. “However, rural communities face a lack of healthcare providers, an aging population with a greater number of chronic conditions, and larger percentages of uninsured or underinsured residents. It’s important that private and public partnerships continue to tackle these issues while meeting the unique needs of these areas.”
In Iowa, 90 hospitals and 144 certified rural health clinics are located in rural areas. Rural healthcare organizations are national leaders in developing quality performance measures and are moving forward with electronic health records to benefit patient care. In addition, rural EMS services are working with agricultural safety organizations to improve response time and to aid in prevention of farm worker injuries.
IDPH recognizes that rural healthcare needs can’t be addressed through a “one size fits all” approach. Because each community is different, programs and policies must be flexible enough to enable rural communities to identify and address the unique needs of their residents. To get more information about National Rural Health Day, visit http://celebratepowerofrural.org/. To learn about the Iowa Rural Health Association, and how IDPH helps rural communities identify and resolve issues and build rural health infrastructure, see www.iaruralhealth.org/.