Marking a Historic Milestone: The NCDHHS Office of Rural Health Turns 50

On November 16th, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Rural Health celebrated its 50th anniversary on the same day as National Rural Health Day. During the 2022 fiscal year, this office served over 618,000 patients in rural communities, maintained 240 contracts and operated several health centers. The economic impact of the office amounted to $53 million, including $25 million in employee compensation.

Maggie Sauer, the director of the Office of Rural Health, highlighted that this office was the first of its kind in the nation and emphasized that it runs a training program for healthcare workers called the Community Health Worker Training. This initiative was launched in October 2014 to train and provide rural communities with healthcare practitioners. As part of this effort, the North Carolina Community Health Worker Summit was organized to bring together policymakers, community members and health workers to address rural healthcare challenges.

George Pink, the deputy director of the North Carolina Rural Health Research Program, drew attention to a shortage of primary care practitioners almost everywhere across rural areas in America. Furthermore, rural residents are reportedly 40 percent more likely to be uninsured and eligible for Medicaid expansion which will become effective on December 1st . In an effort to incentivize healthcare professionals to work in rural areas; The federal government offers a range of programs and loan repayment initiatives.

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