Rural Health Week in Alabama ….November 12-16

by Staff
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Montgomery-Governor Robert Bentley has declared the week of November 12-16, 2011 as Rural Health Week in Alabama.  This week includes November 15, which has been declared as National Rural Health Day.


The availability of adequate and quality health care, that is often taken for granted in our more urbanized counties, is far from a reality in many of Alabama’s rural counties.  Currently, only five of Alabama’s 55 rural counties are not entirely or partially classified as having a shortage of primary care physician services.  All 55 rural counties are classified as shortage areas for the provision of dental and mental health care.  Three rural counties do not have a full-time dentist in the entire county.  Thirty-six of the 55 rural counties do not have hospitals that deliver babies with other rural hospitals currently considering ceasing this basic service.  Seventeen rural counties do not have a dialysis clinic.  The availability of emergency medical service varies greatly from county to county in our rural areas.  These are only a few of the greater health care concerns that our rural areas are consistently confronting.


Having adequate and quality health care available throughout Alabama, including our rural areas, is of critical importance to everyone, regardless of where they may live.  Alabamians are highly mobile, consistently traveling through rural and urban areas.  Knowing that adequate and quality health care is available throughout Alabama is an assurance that everyone needs.  Anyone from any area can suddenly find themselves or someone very important to them in need of health care service in a rural area.  Rural health care is not just for rural residents.


Recruiting industry to an area that does not have adequate and quality health care is extremely difficult.  In addition to being a necessity for recruiting industry, healthcare, itself, is an engine for economic development.  Studies indicate that each primary care physician produces an annual economic impact of up to $1.7 million for the community.


The vast majority of goods that we enjoy, including those that are vital to our survival, were produced in rural areas or produced using resources from rural areas.  Our rural areas are of critical importance to the survival of everyone.  In addition to being the source of so many necessities to our survival, our rural areas were responsible for making Alabama and America a world leader and must be the source for returning us to this prominence.


Alabama’s rural areas provide encouragement during difficult times.  The most current estimates of the market value of Alabama’s agricultural products sold is over $4.4 billion, a 35 percent increase in only five years.  Alabama ranks among the top ten states in production of at least seven major product classifications.  Alabama exports to other countries totaled a record high $17.9 billion last year, up by more than 15 percent over the previous year.


In celebrating Rural Health Week and Day, recognize and appreciate the critical importance of rural Alabama and other rural areas.  For additional information, please contact Dale E. Quinney, Executive Director, Alabama Rural Health Association at (334) 546-3502 or (334) 281-3866.


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