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Avera Recognizes National Rural Health Day

Nov 13, 2018 03:03PM ● By MED Magazine

Over 60 million Americans live in rural and frontier communities. Rural communities are wonderful places to live and work, but these communities also have unique health care needs, which is why the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSOR) sets aside the third Thursday of every November – Nov. 15, 2018 – to celebrate National Rural Health Day.

“Thirty-two of Avera’s 34 facilities are considered rural,” said Curt Hohman, Vice President of Managed Facilities for Avera. “Our commitment, dating back to the late 1800s with the Benedictine and Presentation Sisters, has always been focused on access to quality health care in rural areas.”

Now more than ever, rural communities must address accessibility issues, a lack of health care providers, the needs of an aging population suffering from a greater number of chronic conditions, and larger percentages of un- and underinsured citizens, according to the NOSOR. And rural hospitals – which are often the economic foundation of their communities in addition to being the primary providers of care – struggle daily as declining reimbursement rates and disproportionate funding levels make it challenging to serve their residents.

“Facing some of these geographic and demographic challenges has actually made Avera better and focused on solutions,” Hohman added. “Take a look at our Avera eCARE® program – started out of the necessity to connect our rural facilities to telemedicine access – and you have what many experts conclude is the gold standard of telemedicine in the world. Avera is constantly trying to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to making sure our rural footprint has access to the highest quality health care. Our eCARE® services keep patients local so they can stay in their own communities.”

The Avera Rural Health Institute assists Avera facilities in rural areas with a variety of needs including project development, strategic planning, community health surveys, grant writing and management and more.

Rural hospitals serve an estimated 62 million Americans, nearly 25 percent of the country’s population. The people in rural and frontier areas heavily rely on their local health care providers for quality care, close to home. The health care industry also accounts for 15 – 20 percent of all jobs in rural communities, benefiting the economic development of rural America.