In an effort to draw attention to the wide range of issues that impact rural health, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has declared November 15-19, 2021, as Rural Health in Pennsylvania week at the request of the Pennsylvania Rural Health Association (PRHA) and the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health (PORH).
Governor Wolf made the proclamation to promote awareness of the full range of issues that impact rural health care throughout the Commonwealth and the health status of rural Pennsylvanians. Nationally, Pennsylvania ranks as one of the states with the highest number of rural residents, with 26 percent of Pennsylvanians residing in rural areas. In recognition of Pennsylvania’s diverse rural needs, the Commonwealth has supported the development of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health, and other agencies and initiatives to address the needs of rural Pennsylvanians.
The week encompasses November 18, which is National Rural Health Day, established in 2011 by the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) 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 59.5 million Americans, including 3.4 million Pennsylvanians, live in rural communities,” said Lisa Davis, PORH director and outreach associate professor of health policy and administration at Penn State. “These small towns and communities continue to be fueled by the creative energy of citizens who step forward to provide a wealth of products, resources, and services.
Rural communities also face unique health care concerns: a lack of providers; accessibility issues, particularly in terms of transportation and technology; and affordability issues as the result of larger percentages of uninsured and underinsured citizens and greater out-of-pocket health costs. Rural hospitals and health care providers, which frequently are the economic backbone of the communities they serve, deserve special consideration so that they can continue to provide high-quality services and meet the needs of rural residents.”
To celebrate the work being done to achieve health care access and equity in Pennsylvania, PORH will present Pennsylvania Rural Health Awards during virtual ceremonies across rural Pennsylvania.
PORH was established in 1991 to enhance the health status of rural Pennsylvanians and strengthen the delivery and quality of care in the communities in which they live. Each year, the organization presents awards to recognize rural health programs and individuals who have made substantial contributions to rural health in Pennsylvania. To learn more about the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health, visit porh.psu.edu.
PRHA is dedicated to enhancing the health and well-being of Pennsylvania’s rural citizens and communities. Through the combined efforts of individuals, organizations, professionals, and community leaders, the Association is a collective voice for rural health issues and a conduit for information and resources. More information can be found at paruralhealth.org.