JOPLIN, MO- America’s rural communities are wonderful places to live, work, and visit. They are also where healthcare providers have the opportunity to provide innovative and affordable primary care – a model for the rest of the country to follow as America transitions to a population-, wellness-based system of health care.
Unfortunately, these communities also face unique healthcare needs: a lack of healthcare providers, an aging population suffering from a greater number of chronic conditions, and larger percentages of un- and underinsured citizens. A lack of public transportation, fragile infrastructures, and geographic barriers also must be overcome in order to ensure that all rural safety net providers can adequately meet the basic healthcare needs of their residents.
These are just a few of the messages being shared by Mercy Hospital Columbus, the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH), and other local, state and national rural stakeholders during the third annual National Rural Health Day celebration on Thursday, November 21, 2013.
Mercy Columbus plans to celebrate National Rural Health Day by flying in Mercy’s new EC135 P2+ Life Line helicopter, landing it at the hospital and inviting local EMS workers, fire and rescue as well as community members to stop and check it out. The new helicopter is equipped with the latest technology and adds additional security to rural residents in the event of an emergency. In farming communities, a major trauma can be a life or death situation if quick response isn’t available.
NOSORH created National Rural Health Day in 2011 as a way to showcase rural America and increase awareness of rural health-related issues.
“National Rural Health Day gives us the opportunity to ‘Celebrate the Power of Rural’ and highlight the good works being performed here,” notes Mercy Columbus President Cindy Neely. “It also allows us to highlight the unique healthcare issues facing rural citizens and promote the efforts, specialty clinics and services we bring to the county and our rural residents.”
In Kansas, Mercy Columbus supports rural citizens through regular hospital services, but also brings specialty clinics into the hospital weekly. Mercy brings cardiologist, podiatrist, urologist, ultrasound services and mobile mammography services to the residents that would otherwise have to travel nearly 40 miles to get them.
Additional National Rural Health Day information is available at celebratepowerofrural.org.
Mercy is the sixth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and serves more than 3 million people annually. Mercy includes 31 hospitals, 300 outpatient facilities, 39,000 co-workers and more than 2,000 integrated physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.