Jefferson City Governor Mike Parson hosted a Rural Healthcare Summit in Bolivar, Missouri, bringing together stakeholder and industry leaders to identify working solutions to address the challenges and unmet healthcare needs in rural Missouri.
“A key part of our efforts to improve Missouri’s workforce and infrastructure is improving our citizens’ health and healthcare by developing better access to providers and hospitals, especially in our rural areas,” said Governor Parson. “Almost 40 percent of Missouri’s citizens live in rural areas, and we are committed to making sure they too have access to both preventive and emergency care when it’s needed. We need to look at innovative solutions to increase providers and access to quality healthcare in rural areas.”
The first ever Missouri rural healthcare summit included topics like economic development in rural communities, Medicaid, rural hospitals, workforce provider access, Project ECHO, and telemedicine/behavioral health.
“Delivery of healthcare is challenging regardless of setting,” said Karen White, CEO of Missouri Highlands Health Care. “In Missouri’s rural communities our patients struggle to access care, and we as healthcare providers struggle to provide the care necessary to facilitate and ensure quality healthcare to impoverished rural communities. Governor Parson’s willingness to focus on the difficult challenges rural Missourians face daily with the first ever Rural Healthcare Summit speaks to the grave importance of this issue, as well as his belief that by working together solutions can be found.”
The event concluded with a keynote address from Don Babb, the Chief Executive Office/Executive Director of Citizens Memorial Hospital/Citizens Memorial Healthcare Foundation.
“The summit is bringing together rural health experts from across the state and providing a platform for us to talk about our challenges and what opportunities exist in improving the health of patients in rural Missouri,” said Babb. “CMH has worked hard to navigate the constant changes in healthcare while continuing to expand our services to our rural communities. Our residents deserve access to exceptional care, and it is part of CMH’s mission to provide that care to every generation.”
“The purpose of the summit is to learn from each other, hear about what is working, and explore together the areas where we can improve,” said Dr. Randall Williams, Director of the Department of Health and Senior Services. “We have many innovative programs in Missouri and want to share ideas on how best to move forward. I have seen firsthand throughout Missouri how people working together can meet challenges and deliver superb care.”