I am here with Dr. Lynda Bergsma and Joyce Hospodar, both with our Center for Rural Health. There are approximately 400 folks attending the institute, all of whom will be learning about the current rural health policy issues and then spending time meeting with politicians and their staff about these issues.
Earlier this morning, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius gave a keynote address on rural health issues in the country. Since she is a former governor of Kansas, a state in which 90 out of 105 counties are rural, as one might expect she conveyed her deep concern about rural health issues. What really struck me about her remarks, though, was when she said that schools and hospitals are the two institutions/facilities in rural communities which can really devastate a community when they close. When a school or hospital closes, it can start a downward cycle as it is more difficult to retain families and attract new families to a community without a school or hospital. That is as message I think all of those who care about rural health care and rural America in general can agree upon.
If you are interested in reading more about her presentation, check out the NRHA blog
If you are interested in reading more about this conference, check out this website: http://www.ruralhealthweb.org/pi