Thursday Is National Rural Health Day

Sioux Falls, SD — The National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health says National Rural Health Day is on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015. Avera Health officials say they’re joining in the celebration.
National Rural Health Day is an opportunity to honor and celebrate health care facilities and health professionals in small towns, farming communities and rural areas, and also to recognize the unique health care challenges faced today, say Avera officials.

As a health network serving a largely rural area, Avera has a long-standing commitment to rural health. Avera has 330 locations in 100 communities throughout a five-state region. Avera covers a service area of more than 72,000 square miles and 86 counties.

In our area, the the Osceola Community Hospital in Sibley, Sioux Center Health in Sioux Center, and Hegg Memorial Hospital in Rock Valley are connected to Avera, and so are the Larchwood and Hull medical clinics and Whispering Heights in Rock Valley.

Approximately 62 million people – nearly one in five Americans – live in rural and frontier communities throughout the United States.

Rachael Sherard, Senior Vice President for Avera Rural Health Services says that 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. She says that the hospitals and providers serving these rural communities not only provide quality patient care, but also help keep good jobs in rural America. But she says that these communities also face unique health care needs.

She says that today more than ever, rural communities must tackle 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. Meanwhile, rural hospitals are threatened with declining reimbursement rates and disproportionate funding levels that makes it challenging to serve their residents.

Avera’s Rural Health Institute collaborates with community leaders and other agencies to find solutions to challenges that affect rural health care through educational health planning, consulting, economic development, leadership development, strategic planning and grant writing.

For information about National Rural Health Day, go to

More information from Avera:

Avera eCARE™ is one example of a specialized program that benefits quality rural health care. Through telemedicine technology, eCARE extends specialty care from a hub in Sioux Falls throughout a 545,000-square-mile area across eight states. Having impacted more than 805,000 patients, the system has saved an estimated $172 million in health care costs.

Avera eCARE has several distinct arms that serve varied needs: eICU® CARE™, eConsult, eEmergency, ePharmacy, eLongTermCare and eCorrectional Health.

“To our knowledge, no one else in the world is doing what we’re doing in a rural setting,” said Deanna Larson, Senior Vice President of Quality and eCARE, Avera Health. “We built upon solutions that were already in place to continue the Avera mission to make a positive impact in the lives and health of individuals and communities.”

National Rural Health Day, an annual celebration on the third Thursday of each November, was created to showcase rural America and to increase awareness of rural health-related issues.

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