NORTHEAST OKLAHOMA – Community Health Center of Northeast Oklahoma, Inc, dba: Afton, Grove and Welch Community Health Centers will join the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) and other state/national rural stakeholders in celebrating National Rural Health Day on Thursday, Nov. 16.

NOSORH created National Rural Health Day as a way to showcase rural America; increase awareness of rural health-related issues; and promote the efforts of NOSORH, State Offices of Rural Health and others in addressing those issues. Plans call for National Rural Health Day to become an annual celebration on the third Thursday of each November.

Events recognizing National Rural Health Day and “Celebrating the Power of Rural” are being planned throughout the nation. In our area, Community Health Center of Northeast Oklahoma is planning to mark the occasion by providing links on its website, promoting rural health on Facebook and Twitter and providing hand out materials to its patients about the role of healthcare in rural Oklahoma.

Approximately 62 million people – nearly one in five Americans – live in rural and frontier communities throughout the United States. “These small towns, farming communities and frontier areas are wonderful places to live and work; they are places where neighbors know each other and work together,” said NOSORH Director Teryl Eisinger. “The hospitals and providers serving these rural communities not only provide quality patient care, but they also help keep good jobs in rural America.”

These communities also face unique healthcare needs. “Today more than ever, rural communities must tackle accessibility issues, a lack of healthcare providers, the needs of an aging population suffering from a greater number of chronic conditions, and larger percentages of un- and underinsured citizens,” Eisinger said. “Meanwhile, rural hospitals are threatened with declining reimbursement rates and disproportionate funding levels that makes it challenging to serve their residents.”

State Offices of Rural Health play a key role in addressing those needs. All 50 states maintain a State Office of Rural Health, each of which shares a similar mission: to foster relationships, disseminate information and provide technical assistance that improves access to, and the quality of, health care for its rural citizens. In the past year alone, State Offices of Rural Health collectively provided technical assistance to more than 28,000 rural communities.

Additional information about National Rural Health Day can be found at nosorh.org/nrhd. To learn more about NOSORH, visit www.nosorh.org; to learn more about Community Health Center of Northeast Oklahoma, visit www.chcneo.com.