National Rural Health Day: The Power of Rural is The Way We Work

National Rural Health Day: The Power of Rural is The Way We Work

By Ruthie Boyd, Marketing Coordinator VISTA

“I Like The Way You Work”

I handed our seven-year-old patient’s mother a bag full of Skippy goodies, including a new toothbrush, floss, and a sheet outlining nearby dentists who accept Medicaid and CHP. And as I did, her eyes smiled at us. She thanked our dental hygienist, Claire, for the great service, saying “I like the way you work.”

As Claire and I waved goodbye, our young patient’s freshly cleaned and polished smile covered by a mask, I was struck by the important work that we do in making healthcare accessible, convenient, and affordable to families in our region. Under my mask, I smiled back at Claire. We like the way we work, too. Since 2008, Skippy has partnered with regional schools to provide more than 7,000 cavity prevention treatments. By providing mobile teeth cleaning services to kids in our communities, we’ve reduced the percentage of kids with untreated tooth decay to 9% below the national average.

The Challenges We Face

More than 57 million Americans live, work, and play in rural communities. The median annual household income for residents of rural areas is well below the urban average, and rural areas face a disproportionate shortage of qualified health are providers- 68% of areas that face health professional shortages are rural.

Tri-County Health Network’s mission is to remove barriers to care and strive for health equity on the Western Slope of Colorado. Tri-County Health Network does what many rural organizations do- a little bit of everything, forging bridges between resources and residents throughout the rural area we serve. Our online therapy and behavioral health programming and trainings, support for Spanish speaking community members, distribution of emergency funds, and insurance enrollment assistance are just a handful of the ways that we help our residents thrive.

And today, on National Rural Health Day, we acknowledge this work. We thank the rural healthcare providers, State Offices of Rural Health, and other rural stakeholders for the work they perform daily to help our communities thrive. Tri-County Health Network is proud to be part of a coalition of partners whose variations on the mission for health equity intersect to ensure that communities members receive the support they need.

The Power of Rural

The pandemic continues to reinforce the isolation that rural communities often face, and Tri-County Health Network has been working diligently to ensure that these newly formed barriers to care are effectively reduced and eliminated. By offering many of our programs online, including online therapy, online cooking matters classes, and online insurance enrollment assistance, we have developed creative and adaptable ways to ensure that our programming continues. Reconfiguring resources to ensure that everyone can access the care they need is what we do best, and the pandemic continues to highlight the resilience of rural healthcare providers and the power of rural.

Today, we celebrate the way that the power of rural shines through the barriers to health we face. We celebrate our partners and the progress that we’ve made, together. We celebrate the small moments, when we hand a child a new toothbrush, and the larger ones, when we are able to achieve systematic change through securing funding to help build community programs that help connect us all. We celebrate resilience, adaptability, and progress. We celebrate all that we have done, and all that we will continue to do, to make the Power of Rural shine loud and clear.

Read more statistics about the barriers that rural communities face:

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