National Rural Health Day is celebrated on the third Thursday of every November, this year the date is November 21st. Today is the third annual celebration. The purpose of the celebration is to bring awareness to the perks and challenges that residents and healthcare workers face while trying to provide health care in a rural setting. It is also a time to thank rural health care providers for their continued effort to improve the health of rural residents.
Approximately 59.5 million Americans live in rural areas. While there are many perks of living and working in a close knit community, it is important to remember that rural communities have unique healthcare needs. Accessibility is a major issue; there were only 55 primary care physicians per 100,000 residents in rural areas in 2005, compared with 72 per 100,000 in urban areas. This statistic drops even further, to 36 per 100,000, when looking at isolated rural areas. Residents in rural areas are more likely to be uninsured and spend more money out of pocket on healthcare than people residing in urban areas. While there are definitely challenges to providing health care in a rural setting, there is still much to celebrate!
The National Rural Health Day website provides some great ideas on how to get involved:
- Answer your phone by saying “Hello … Happy National Rural Health Day”
- Visit one of those morning news shows and hold up a sign that says “Happy National Rural Health Day!”
- Wear a National Rural Health Day T-shirt to school or work
- Plan a group run or some other kind of fitness activity
- Do something “healthy” today – eat more vegetables, bike instead of drive to work, get your blood pressure or cholesterol checked, etc.
- Write a letter to the editor or contact a local legislator to stress the importance of addressing the health needs of rural communities
- Thank a rural health provider for all they do!