State Celebrates National Rural Health Day on Thursday, November 21
ATLANTA – (November 13, 2013) – More than 2 million Georgians count on the services of physicians, hospitals and health care providers who provide critical health services in rural Georgia. The Georgia Department of Community Health’s (DCH) State Office of Rural Health (SORH) serves Georgia’s 109 counties that have populations of less than 35,000.
Throughout the state, there are 63 hospitals located in rural counties; 31 of these are Critical Access Hospitals. Twenty-seven Federally Qualified Health Centers provide 180 access points for health care.
“Georgia’s rural health providers are critical to better access to health care across our state,” said DCH Commissioner Clyde L. Reese III. “And while our state is moving closer to health information networks and telemedicine, the care of this vulnerable population depends on physicians and other health care providers who are the lifeline to affordable quality health care.”
Georgia is joining the nation to celebrate the third annual Rural Health Day on Thursday, November 21. The commemoration will recognize the contributions of physicians, hospitals and other health care providers who deliver health care to hundreds of thousands of underserved people in rural areas of the nation. The program is being sponsored by the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health.
“Our mission in the State Office of Rural Health is far-reaching and significant,” said Charles F. Owens, executive director of the SORH. “With the advent of new technologies, including telemedicine, electronic health records and the secure sharing of health information among providers and patients, this is indeed an exciting time for rural health.”
With a budget of more than $9.3 million provided from federal and state funds, the SORH administers programs to develop financially viable non-traditional regional systems designed to meet the health and service demands of Georgia rural communities. The desired outcomes are:
· Improvements in rural health
· A strengthened health care safety net
· The promotion of health care as a strategic industry in Georgia
The SORH provides financial and technical support to select demonstration communities with the leadership and capacity to collaboratively design and implement models that:
· Increase access to integrated health services (physical health, prevention services, behavioral health, etc.)
· Transition to consumer-driven health care
· Encourage regionalization of services to make providers more financially stable
· Use medical technology to improve health outcomes and efficiency
· Ensure the long-term viability of the state’s health care safety net programs
· Ensure continued job opportunities for employees in new roles that support the innovative health care delivery model, as well as creating a strong workforce of healthy citizens