2011-11-17 / Local & State

PA Office Of Rural Health Joins National Celebration

The Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health (PORH) will join the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH), all 50 State Offices of Rural Health ( SORHs) and others throughout the Commonwealth and nationwide in celebrating the first-ever National Rural Health Day on November 17.

In conjunction with National Rural Health Day, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett has proclaimed November 14-18 to be Rural Health Week in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Senate also passed a resolution recognizing Rural Health Week in Pennsylvania.

NOSORH created National Rural Health Day to showcase rural America; increase awareness of rural health issues; and promote the efforts of NOSORH, State Offices of Rural Health (SORHs) and others in addressing those issues. “Nearly 62 million Americans, including 3.5 million Pennsylvanians, live in rural communities,” notes PORH Director Lisa Davis. “These small towns, villages and farming communities are the heart and soul of our nation and Commonwealth – and the hospitals and healthcare providers providing quality patient care to citizens of these communities are also frequently the economic backbone of the region they serve.

“ Unfortunately, these communities also face a host of unique healthcare challenges – a lack of providers, an aging population suffering from a greater number of chronic conditions and larger percentages of un-/underinsured citizens, to name a few,” Davis says. “Rural hospitals also face declining reimbursement rates and disproportionate funding levels that make it challenging to meet the needs of their residents.”

SORHs play a key role in helping communities address those needs. All 50 states maintain a SORH, each of which shares a similar mission: to foster relationships, disseminate information and provide technical assistance that improves rural citizens’ access to quality health care. SORHs collectively provided technical assistance to more than 28,000 rural communities in the past year alone.

PORH was created in 1991 to enhance the health status of rural Pennsylvanians through advocacy, outreach, education, applied research, and special projects and programs. Since then, PORH has grown to become the Commonwealth’s primary provider of rural healthrelated information and technical assistance. During the fiscal year ended June 30, 2010, the office fielded more than 600 technical assistance requests from 469 individuals, organizations, and communities seeking to improve the delivery and quality of rural health care in Pennsylvania. Examples of PORH-provided technical assistance include:

Sharing funding opportunities, hosting a series of grant-writing workshops offered by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy and the Pennsylvania Department of Health and providing grantwriting technical assistance.

Collecting and disseminating information on rural health issues, partnerships, programs and services in Pennsylvania.

Providing feedback and connecting potential partners on proposed rural health projects.

Helping the state’s smallest and most rural hospitals remain financially viable.

Assisting farm owners, growers and farm workers in their efforts to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Worker Protection Standards.

Events recognizing National Rural Health Day are being planned by NOSORH, SORHs and others throughout the nation. PORH will commemorate National Rural Health Day – and mark the office’s 20th anniversary – by hosting a daylong “Celebrating the Power of Rural in Pennsylvania” conference on November 17.

Learn more at http://porh.psu.edu; to learn more about National Rural Health Day, visit http://celebratepowerofrural.org.

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