On National Rural Health Day, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Rural Health marked its 50th anniversary. Over the past fiscal year, this office served over 618,000 patients in rural communities and operated several health centers. The economic impact of the office amounted to $53 million, including $25 million in employee compensation.
Maggie Sauer, director of the Office of Rural Health, emphasized that this was the first office of its kind in the country. The office also runs a training program for healthcare workers called the Community Health Worker Training, launched in October 2014 to provide rural communities with healthcare practitioners. As part of this effort, North Carolina held its Community Health Worker Summit to bring together policymakers, community members and health workers to address rural healthcare challenges.
George Pink, deputy director of North Carolina’s Rural Health Research Program shed light on the shortage of primary care practitioners in almost all rural areas across the United States. It was also reported that rural residents are 40 percent more likely to be uninsured and eligible for Medicaid expansion which will become effective on December 1st. To incentivize healthcare professionals to work in rural areas, the federal government offers a range of programs and loan repayment initiatives.