Today is National Rural Health Day, and I’m giving a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. to talk about what USDA Rural Development has done to strengthen access to health care in our rural communities, as well as carry a message from President Obama on the importance of this day.
Critical care infrastructure is a challenge in any community, and in our rural areas it is often compounded by distances that are unthinkable to those who live in our urban centers. Take Alaska, for example: Yesterday we announced investments to bring an ambulance and emergency medical equipment to St. Paul Island in the Bering Sea. The nearest hospital facility is almost 800 miles away in Anchorage. That’s like someone in Illinois having to come to Washington, D.C. for medical care. Read more »
Rural America faces tremendous uncertainty today. Congress has not yet passed a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill, and the current extension of 2008 Farm Bill programs will soon expire. Additionally, thus far, no budget has been provided by Congress to continue funding the Federal government past September 30.
Amid this uncertainty, USDA remains focused on our mission and on our work to revitalize the rural economy. We have delivered record investments under President Obama’s leadership, and we will continue working to do so. In a time of reduced resources, we’ve also taken a wide range of new, collaborative approaches with other government agencies—complementing our public-private partnerships and creating better collaboration among state and local partners. Read more »
Nurse Jennifer Witting stands beside newly installed telemedicine equipment at the Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital in Laurium, MI in June 2012. The Aspirus Health Foundation, Inc. received two Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grants through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development (RD) DLT Program, that enabled Aspirus to grow their Telehealth infrastructure into communities in north-central Wisconsin and the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan. USDA photo.
This week at USDA we are celebrating National Health IT week by highlighting USDA’s ongoing efforts to expand modern health care access to rural America. Yesterday, we announced two new steps to improve health care for rural Americans – both through new investments in health infrastructure and ongoing interagency partnerships designed to better focus Federal efforts on rural health care.
USDA is expanding a partnership with HHS and the Department of Veterans Affairs, as part of our work together on the White House Rural Council, to leverage funds and other efforts that will support advanced health care technology in rural hospitals. This partnership is an extension of a successful pilot launched in five states – Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi and Texas – to identify rural critical access hospitals in persistent poverty areas in need of advanced health care technology. For example, during the pilot phase of this partnership, the USDA Rural Development Iowa State Office, the Iowa Regional Health IT Extension Center (REC) and the Iowa State Office of Rural Health convened the first Iowa Rural Health IT Forum to expand care for Critical Access Hospitals. Read more »
Since the White House Rural Council was formed in 2009, our members from across the Federal government have taken a renewed look at many critical programs and services that impact rural residents, with an overarching goal to ensure that Federal agencies are collaborating to achieve the greatest possible benefit in rural America.
Today, I hosted a meeting of the White House Rural Council where we continued our focus on shared efforts to better serve rural America – from conservation, to veterans’ services, to rural development, to support for American agriculture and more.
Today’s meeting included a special focus on expanding rural access to health care. Rural Americans face unique barriers with regard to health care services, and new investments in medical facilities, expanded information technology and stronger veterans’ health care services can help meet these challenges. Read more »
Michigan U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow speaks at the ground-breaking for the new USDA-supported Cassopolis Family Clinic. USDA photo.
Cassopolis, located in southwest Michigan, recently celebrated the ground-breaking for the new USDA Rural Development supported Cassopolis Family Clinic. Like many rural communities, Cassopolis has limited facilities for health care, particularly for low-income residents. The Cassopolis Family Clinic was founded more than 50 years ago to serve the surrounding community and the facility will bring that service into the future.
USDA Rural Development was represented at the event by Paw Paw Sub-Area Office Team Leader Lisa Epple, who was joined by local leaders and U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow. Read more »
Dr. Steven Mulder can’t enter Harmony River Living Center in rural Minnesota without smiling.
Harmony River Senior Living Center, shown in a photo in late February, was financed through USDA’s Community Facilities Program.
The CEO and president of Hutchinson Area Health Care wore an especially large smile during a dedication ceremony for the new senior living facility in late February. “When we broke ground, we imagined what could be,” Mulder said. “We didn’t imagine this.” Read more »