December 2023: The 2023 National Rural Health Day celebration continues 



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CMS Report on advancing health equity in rural, tribal, and geographically isolated communities

In November, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published “Advancing Health Equity in Rural, Tribal, and Geographically Isolated Communities: FY 2023 Year in Review”.  The report’s executive summary states, “These communities, which represent approximately 67 million Americans, contribute to the cultural diversity of our entire nation and play a vital role in the health and wellbeing of all Americans … Despite this, many communities continue to face structural barriers to achieving equitable health outcomes, such as recruitment and retention of health workforces, access to specialty care or home and community-based services, and long distances to travel for care.” The report states that “telehealth is an essential tool for expanding access to care in rural, tribal, and geographically isolated areas,” and goes on to discuss the ongoing optimization of medical and communication technologies for people in these areas which CMS has worked to support through multiple tactics including “developing policies to increase telehealth access and coverage,” encouraging “uptake of telehealth and virtual services by promoting their availability to consumers,” and “conducting detailed analyses and releasing summative reports” of telehealth use including the Medicare Telehealth Trends dataset and report.

The 2023 National Rural Health Day celebration continues 

The United States Health Resources & Service Administration (HRSA) celebrated the 2023 National Rural Health Day (NRHD), November 16th, with a packed agenda featuring online events including rural health focused webinars and a virtual job fair for rural communities, a proclamation from the White House, a press release from the US Department of Health and Human Services, fact sheets, and a map detailing investments in rural health in each state. The theme this year is “Innovation in Rural Health Care Delivery.”  Recordings of several of the webinars including the keynote are linked here

On NRHD 2023 the Arizona Center for Rural Health, Arizona’s State Office of Rural Health, in partnership with the Arizona Telemedicine Program and the HRSA funded Southwest Telehealth Resource Center, hosted the webinar “Opportunities to Improve Maternal and Infant Health in Rural Areas” featuring Ada Dieke, DRPH, MPH, health equity lead for the Division of Reproductive Health (DRH) at the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.  Dr. Dieke shared information on disparities in maternal and/or infant health outcomes in rural areas; different opportunities to improve data and programs in rural areas; and different workforce development opportunities in the area of prevention and health promotion at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  A recording of this webinar is available here

Southwest Telehealth Resource Center Region States’ NRHD Highlights

The National Organization of State Office of Rural Health (NOSORH) recently announced the 2023 National Rural Health Day Community Stars as part of the organization’s annual NRHD “Power of Rural” celebration shining a light on those who serve the vital health needs of the more than 61 million people living in rural America. Community Stars were celebrated in many states across the country including in Arizona and Nevada.

NOSORH’s 2023 Arizona Community Star:
Holly Figueroa, Tribal Liaison, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona Health Choice and President, Arizona Rural Health Association 
“As the Tribal Liaison for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ) Health Choice and the President of the Arizona Rural Health Association (AzRHA), I work to strengthen tribal relations with tribes, focusing on access to care, prevention, coordination of care, nation building, training and education, health disparities and stigma reduction, and cross-sector tribal collaborative efforts. I also focus on rural communities and rural health issues.”  

“Power of Rural” is community. Rural communities are places where people know one another and are able to come together.” 
NOSORH’s 2023 Nevada Community Star:
Loren Simpson, MD, South Lyon Medical Center, Yerington, Nevada  
“I am the Emergency Department Medical Director at South Lyon Medical Center (SLMC). Emergency, urgent care and sports medicine are my passions. I volunteer with youth athletic groups such as USA Boxing and provide medical coverage for rodeo events and mixed martial arts. When I am not working with SLMC, I am also on staff with our local tribal healthcare entities and am a Colonel in the Army Reserve. My military career has augmented my skill set practicing in rural Northern Nevada and vice versa.  

‘Power of Rural’ embodies life in small-town Nevada. One learns to adapt, overcome, and adjust to living here. It’s a choice and is driven by culture, family and our history.”  
Separately, many states’ governors made proclamations supporting NRHD 2023:
Colorado’s Gov. Jared Polis issued a proclamation proclaiming Nov. 16, 2023, Rural Health Day in the Rocky Mountain state. For more info on rural health in Colorado, visit the Colorado Rural Health Center website
“Our mission is to enhance healthcare services in the state by providing information, education, linkages, tools, and energy toward addressing rural health issues. Our vision is to improve healthcare services available in rural communities to ensure that all rural Coloradans have access to comprehensive, affordable, high-quality healthcare.” 

Colorado Rural Health Center 
Nevada’s Gov. Joe Lombardo’s 2023 NRHD issued a proclamation proclaiming Nov. 16, 2023, Rural Health Day in Nevada. 
“WHEREAS, rural and frontier communities in Nevada 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 their communities and places where great health professionals live and provide care; …” 

Nevada State Office of Rural Health 
New Mexico’s Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued a proclamation proclaiming Nov. 16, 2023, Rural Health Day in New Mexico. 
“Ensuring that New Mexicans in rural areas have access to the full range of healthcare services is one of the Department of Health’s top priorities. While there is still a lot more work to do, National Rural Health Day is a day to thank our rural healthcare providers for helping keep New Mexicans healthy and safe.”- Miranda Durham, Chief Medical Officer, New Mexico Department of Health

New Mexico Department of Health and community partners held a series of health fairs throughout the state to celebrate the “Power of Rural.” 

New Mexico Department of Health Office of Primary Care & Rural Health 
The Southwest Telehealth Resource Center serves Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and the Four Corners Region. 

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