On November 16th, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Rural Health marked its 50th anniversary, coinciding with National Rural Health Day. This office has been instrumental in providing healthcare services to rural communities across the state, serving over 618,000 patients during the 2022 fiscal year.
One of the initiatives that this office is particularly proud of is its Community Health Worker Training program. Launched in October 2014, this training program aims to provide rural communities with qualified healthcare practitioners. Maggie Sauer, director of the Office of Rural Health, emphasized that this program was a first-of-its-kind in the nation and has been crucial in addressing healthcare challenges faced by rural residents. The North Carolina Community Health Worker Summit was organized as part of this effort, bringing together policymakers, community members, and health workers to discuss solutions to rural healthcare issues.
George Pink, deputy director of the North Carolina Rural Health Research Program, pointed out that there is a significant shortage of primary care practitioners in almost all rural areas across the United States. Additionally, rural residents are 40% more likely to be uninsured and eligible for Medicaid expansion which will become effective on December 1st. The federal government offers a range of programs and loan repayment initiatives to incentivize healthcare professionals to work in rural areas.
Overall, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Rural Health has played a critical role in improving access to healthcare services for rural communities across North Carolina over the past 50 years. With ongoing efforts to address these challenges head-on, it is clear that this office will continue to play an important role in ensuring that all residents have access to quality healthcare services regardless of where they live.
The economic impact of this office amounted to $53 million during the fiscal year including $25 million in employee compensation; it served over 618 thousand patients while maintaining contracts numbering 240 and operating several health centers throughout NC’s countryside communities.
In summary; on November 16th, The N