Celebrate National Rural Health Day on Nov. 16

Since its inception in 2011, The Michigan Center for Rural Health (MCRH) is proud to join communities across America in celebration of National Rural Health Day (NRHD) on November 16, 2023. 

The National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) and rural-focused organizations throughout the United States set aside the third Thursday of November to recognize NRHD. This annual event is an opportunity to celebrate the “Power of Rural” and honor the individuals and organizations dedicated to addressing the unique healthcare needs of nearly 61 million people living in rural America.

All 50 states have a State Office of Rural Health (SORH), and MCRH is one of three non-profit SORHs in the country. MCRH was established in 1991 and is instrumental in elevating rural health care in Michigan by assisting in creating and implementing partnerships among organizations, health departments, hospitals, government, and academia. Along with the management of 20 programs, MCRH is able to offer programming, continuing education, events, and valuable resources that have a direct impact on crucial areas of Michigan’s rural health. 

As Michigan’s SORH, MCRH coordinates, plans, and advocates on behalf of 237 Certified Rural Health Clinics and 36 Critical Access Hospitals. The scope of our work includes dedicated programs focused on rural EMS, education, social drivers of health, primary care, hospital quality improvement, rural health workforce, veterans care, and substance use disorder. 

Annual conferences and events that offer valuable networking, engagement, and information to rural healthcare providers are a cornerstone of MCRH’s vision. Next year will see the Annual Michigan Rural Health Conference in April, the Substance and Opioid Use Summit in July, and the Critical Access Hospital Conference in November bring together an exchange of impactful information and engagement to further address challenges facing rural health and practical solutions to overcome them.

It is through celebrating the “Power of Rural” on National Rural Health Day that MCRH turns the focus on healthcare providers, doctors, nurses, social workers, community health workers, mental health professionals, and countless others who work tirelessly to deliver healthy outcomes in their communities.

"It is vital we ensure all rural Michigan residents be healthy and have access to affordable, quality health care," said John Barnas, MCRH executive director. “MCRH is proud to recognize the incredible work of health professionals and volunteers in our rural communities on National Rural Health Day and throughout the year.”

Another essential part of celebrating National Rural Health Day and the “Power of Rural” is to spotlight the strengths of working and living in rural communities. While news outlets will often report on the struggles of rural communities in recruiting and retaining workers, the closing of facilities providing care, and the lack of technological access, NRHD celebrates the positives that are present daily. 

About 1.8 million residents, nearly 20 percent of Michigan’s population, live in rural areas of the state, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture classifications last updated in September 2023. These communities are hubs of innovation and economic engines that need access to quality care and to support those who work and thrive in that field.

MCRH encourages not only rural healthcare providers and professionals to participate in National Rural Health Day activities on Thursday, November 16th but also community members who support them. MCRH has a webpage dedicated to the significance of NRHD, ideas on how your organization can celebrate, tools to spread the word in your community, and activities that community members can participate in throughout the day. The MCRH National Rural Health Day page can be found here: https://mcrh.msu.edu/events/rural-health-day

MCRH Director of Programs and Services, Crystal Barter, explains, “We encourage our stakeholders and health care professionals to find a creative way to spotlight their organizations and communities this National Rural Health Day.” 

“This is a unique opportunity to highlight and champion Michigan rural spaces and people,” Barter continued. “MCRH is proud to share this message in hopes that these areas remain vibrant and welcoming to those that are considering working & living in rural Michigan communities.”

MCRH will be highlighting several rural organizations and their celebrations on November 16, 2023. Follow MCRH social media channels (Facebook, LinkedIn, and X) during NRHD to find out who the 2023 Michigan NRHD Community Star will be in the rural health field, a special Proclamation from Governor Gretchen Whitmer, and the people and places that continue to uplift rural health in Michigan daily.

Douglas Siwek is the Communications and Special Projects Manager for the Michigan Center for Rural Health. For more information about MCRH, please visit mcrh.msu.edu.
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