Last updated: July 18. 2013 7:23PM - 231 Views
Ralph B. Davis
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HAZARD – The University of Kentucky Center for Excellence in Rural Health recognized National Rural Health Day with the support of Governor Steve Beshear, who proclaimed Nov. 15 as Rural Health Day in Kentucky to coincide with the national day of recognition.

The National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) established National Rural Health Day two years ago to increase awareness of rural health-related issues and promote the efforts of State Offices of Rural Health and their partners in addressing rural health care concerns.

The UK CERH serves as the federally designated Kentucky Office of Rural Health (KORH), which was established in 1991 as a framework to link small rural communities with local, state and federal resources while working toward long-term solutions to rural health issues. The KORH assists clinicians, administrators and consumers to find ways to improve communications, finances and access to quality health care while insuring that funding agencies and policy makers are made aware of the needs of rural communities.

Some of the programs and grants available at the KORH include Kentucky’s Rural Hospital Flexibility Program grant program, which allows small hospitals the flexibility to reconfigure operations and be licensed as Critical Access Hospitals in order to receive cost-based reimbursement, plus an additional 1 percent.

“Endeavors like this are essential to stabilize the smallest and most vulnerable rural hospitals, and to improve access to hospital-based care for rural populations,” said Larry Allen, KORH director.

Allen said other services of the KORH include the Small Rural Hospital Improvement Grant (SHIP), which provides funding to support quality improvement initiatives in small hospitals, and the Kentucky State Loan Repayment Program, which is a 50/50 matching program that increases availability of primary health care services through repayment of education loans to eligible health professionals practicing in health professional shortage areas.

The KORH also partners with the Kentucky Rural Health Association to educate providers and consumers on rural health issues and advocates actions by private and public leaders to assure equitable access to health care for rural Kentuckians.

“We feel very fortunate to have the Kentucky Office for Rural Health working on a daily basis with many excellent partners across our State to address the unique healthcare challenges our rural communities face,” said Fran Feltner, director of the UK CERH.

To learn more about KORH services and technical assistance, visit www.kyruralhealth.org/korh, or call 606-439-3557, or toll-free at 855-859-2374.

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