December, 2021: Celebrating 2021 National Rural Health Day


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Celebrating 2021 National Rural Health Day

Since 2010 the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health has designated the 3rd Thursday in November as National Rural Health Day to celebrate the rural leaders and champions in rural communities. This year the Arizona Telemedicine Program and the SWTRC joined with the Arizona Rural Health Association and the Arizona State Office of Rural Health to kick it off in Arizona with a “2021 Mid-Year Rural Health Policy Roundup” webinar by Alan Morgan, CEO of the National Rural Health Association. 

This webinar streamed live to a national audience on November 15th and the recording and presentation slides are available at: for on-demand playback.

Each year the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health selects a Community Star from each of the 50 states.  The 2021 Community Star report,, includes stories of how each Community Star is working to improve life in their rural community.

Congratulations to all of the 2021 Community Stars!

SWTRC Region 2021 Community Star Awardees

Darlene Rose Melk, MD, FAAP
Chief Medical Office
Chiricahua Community Health Centers, Inc.
Dr. Melk is a pediatrician whose vision includes improving the quality of life of rural families. Under her leadership as Chief Medical Officer at Chiricahua Community Health Centers (CCHCI), families in Southeastern Arizona not only have access to walk-in pediatric immunization clinics, but a location for wellness visits, dental care, and blood checks all integrated within the CCHCI building.  Read more about Dr. Melk’s commitment to serving the rural community in Southeast Arizona.
Tamara Laws, RN, BSN
Population Health Nurse
Melissa Memorial Hospital
Tamara Laws is a population health nurse in a Critical Access Hospital located about three hours northeast of Denver, Colorado. Ms. Laws focuses on the Chronic Care Management (CCM) program by educating patients on various aspects of their disease, but also started a remote patient monitoring program. Read more about Ms. Laws and her passion for making sure patients needing specialty care in her community are treated with respect, dignity, and compassion.
Joseph Hardy, MD
Associate Dean of Clinical Education
Touro University, Nevada
College of Osteopathic Medicine
Dr. Hardy is a family medicine physician in who was voted Nevada’s Family Physician of the Year twice. Practicing medicine in the United States Air Force before joining a family medicine practice in Boulder City, Nevada, Dr. Hardy doesn’t want to slow down. Read more about how Dr. Hardy demonstrates his commitment to the health and well-being of his rural and vulnerable community members
Matthew Probst, PA-C
Chief Quality Officer and Medical Director
El Centro Family Health
Mathew Probst is the Chief Quality Officer and Medical Director for a Federally Qualified Health Center located Northeast of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Under his leadership, Mr. Probst was able to implement initiatives at the start of the pandemic which resulted in his county having one of the lowest fatality rates and one of the highest vaccination rates in the county. Read more about why Mr. Probst was featured in an award-winning documentary named The Providers.