Today, Thursday November 19, 2020, is National Rural Health Day. Honestly, I didn’t feel 24 years ago when I assumed this role as CEO of Iowa Specialty Hospitals and Clinics (then Community Memorial Hospital) that I would still be here today. In 1996, as a 32 year old guy with his eye on the future and moving up in the world of healthcare to bigger hospitals and health systems, the furthest thing from my mind was staying in rural north central Iowa. The small, non-descript rural hospital grew into something rather large and influential … who’d a thought??
When I think of great rural health, in my mind it’s more than just having a functional ER or clinic availability in a rural community. It’s providing for all the social determinants - housing, access to good food resources, wellness and healthcare (with all the latest and greatest tools and equipment and access to mental health and specialists and … etc.). When you checked all of these boxes, it creates the best situation possible for all citizens.
So as we “celebrate” rural health in this crazy time of COVID - let’s understand what brought us to this moment in time. It was hard work and a constant focus on what was and is possible. It was going against conventional thought. When leaders in urban areas were telling us that we needed a bigger hospital or system to guide us, because we didn’t have the resources or abilities to do it on our own, we proved them wrong. When leaders in healthcare told us it would be impossible to recruit to an area of the country that was known for lots of agriculture and not a lot of big city “culture”, we proved them wrong. Our success was our collective desire to be part of a winning team and to show the critics what was and is possible in a rural area. We are the new rural health paradigm. We are the example of what great rural healthcare looks like. Congrats!
So YAY!! for us. I am filled with so much pride and honor to be associated with all of you … Happy Thanksgiving everyone (eat too much turkey and pie) and be safe.