Rural communities in Arizona are wonderful places to live and work, which is why 900,000 people (16 percent of the population) call them home. These small towns, farming communities and frontier areas are places where neighbors know each other, listen to each other, respect each other and work together to benefit the greater good.
Rural communities provide the rest of the country with a wealth of services and commodities, and they are the economic engine that has helped the United State become the world economic power it is today.
National Rural Health Day is Nov. 15, and the Center for Rural Health, or CRH, at the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, is celebrating all week long.
Gov. Jan Brewer proclaimed the week of Nov. 12-16 as Rural Health Week to recognize Arizona’s growing rural population and to honor the work that is being done to assist these communities.
“National Rural Health Day gives us a chance to bring to light the unique health care challenges of people living in rural Arizona,” said Neil MacKinnon, director of the Center for Rural Health. “We want to use this day to showcase the efforts of rural health-care providers, the Arizona State Office of Rural Health and other rural stakeholders to address those challenges.”
On Nov. 13, Don Hughes, policy advisor for health care and executive director for the Arizona Health Insurance Exchange for the Office of the Governor Janice K. Brewer, spoke to employees at the CRH and Arizona Health Sciences Center about the major health care policy issues facing Arizona.
Hughes said, “I’m excited to present at the Center for Rural Health and to inform the public about the current healthcare policy issues and the impact they are making on our state.” Watch this video to view his presentation.
Rural communities have unique health-care needs, and the RHC is working to address these problems. Today more than ever, Arizona’s 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.
In addition, rural hospitals – the primary providers of care – struggle daily as declining reimbursement rates and disproportionate funding levels make it challenging to serve their residents.
For more than 25 years, the CRH has served Arizona through its mission to promote the health of rural and medically underserved individuals, families and communities through service, education and research. As the designated home of the State Office of Rural Health, the CRH has a mandate to improve health care for all residents of rural Arizona.