Celebrating the power of rural
Today, across Minnesota and nationwide, we’re celebrating National Rural Health Day.
For the past 11 years, the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health has led the effort — setting aside the third Thursday of every November (this year, on Nov. 17) to call attention to the selfless and community-minded spirit of health care professionals, health care organizations and other stakeholders who work daily to improve health, wellbeing, and equity in the country’s rural communities, where nearly 60 million Americans reside.
From Windom to Cloquet, Winona to Roseau and all points in between and beyond, Minnesota’s rural physicians and physician assistants, advanced practice nurses and other nurses, behavioral and mental health specialists, dentists, therapists and technicians, public health professionals, health professions students, administrators, staff and volunteers, as well as the facilities and agencies where these professionals work — the state’s rural health clinics and hospitals, our public health departments, emergency medical services agencies and other nonprofits who serve the health needs of our rural residents — all deserve a big “thank you” on National Rural Health Day. And so much more.
No matter where they practice — in critical access hospitals, in free clinics, in nursing homes, in mobile health clinics, in federally qualified health centers or in the back of an ambulance — each and every day Minnesota’s rural health care workforce finds ways to give and then give some more. They give us their time. They give us their attention. They give us their unending compassion. They give us leadership and vision for meeting rural community health needs. They’re committed to the communities they serve, which are typically their own communities: the communities where they live, play and shop; the communities where their kids go to school; and, very often, the communities where they grew up.
And all that they give — each one of those sacrifices — is made to ensure that you, me, our family, and our friends receive the best care possible when facing what may potentially be one of the worst days of our lives.
The health care organizations that employ these caring professionals and the nonprofits they partner with deserve our thanks as well. In today’s challenging economic environment, operating a rural health care facility or service is no easy task. But most organizations and their leaders find ways to keep the doors open. They ask the tough questions that need to be asked. They recruit and retain the right staff. They partner with community organizations. They drive change, going the extra mile to advance health equity.
They know they’re needed. They know communities depend on them. They know that a future where their doors are permanently closed is of no benefit to anyone.
So let me take this opportunity to thank all the health care professionals, health care organizations, and health and wellness-related nonprofits who serve this community: Thank you.
When we need you, you are there. No matter the time of day. No matter our health concern. We can depend on you.
That sense of security is nothing short of priceless.
Happy National Rural Health Day to each one of you.
Sally Buck is CEO, National Rural Health Resource Center, headquartered in Duluth.