Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Rural Utahns: What Has Local Health Care Done for You?

(Salt Lake City, UT) – The region’s top rural health official is in Utah this week to recognize the state as a leader in providing quality health care. As part of Utah’s 4th annual Rural Health Week, the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) Office of Primary Care and Rural Health (OPCRH) is hosting Kim Gillan, regional director for U.S. Health and Human Services. Gillan works with officials across a six-state region on numerous health and social service issues.

Gillan’s visit will include a stop at Heber Valley Medical Center in Heber City. During a brief ceremony, hospital administrator Shawn Morrow will receive a copy of Governor Gary Herbert’s declaration highlighting the importance of rural health care. Morrow will also be given a certificate from OPCRH recognizing overall excellence in patient satisfaction and financial stability, two measures that reflect the state’s top quartile performance among all acute care hospitals in the nation.

This year, Rural Health Week is observed November 16 through November 22. The designation is meant to reinforce a history of broad-based, deep-seated commitment from all sectors to improve the quality of and access to health care for rural Utahns.

Also as part of Rural Health Week, OPCRH is holding its 3rd Annual Utah Rural Photo Contest. Entries should share visually what “rural” means to you. Submissions will be judged on creativity, originality, photo quality, and the picture’s overall appeal.  Photos must be original and taken during 2014.  Photos should be submitted in a .jpg format with a minimum resolution of 1920x1080, and include the photographer’s name, email address, organization name (if applicable) and the title and location of each photo using the entry form found at Prizes will be given for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place.  Entries may be e-mailed to Owen Quiñonez at by December 5, 2014.  Winners will be notified by December 15, 2014, and winning photos will be posted on the OPCRH website at

Approximately 24 percent of Utahns live in rural areas and rely on health care professionals close to home to meet their medical needs.  Dr. Don Wood, OPCRH Director, says, “Many people may not know that the care offered in smaller communities is high quality. It can also be more personal, as providers can offer medical services tailored to meet their patients unique needs.”  Wood adds, “Rural medical providers offer exceptional care which is equal to that in more densely populated regions.”

All 50 states maintain a State Office of Rural Health (SORH) to foster relationships, disseminate information, and provide technical assistance that improves access to, and quality of, health care for its rural citizens. As Utah’s SORH, OPCRH awards more than $600,000 in grants to rural health organizations to help residents access primary care, mental health and dental services. This funding helps local providers care for Utahns in small communities, which comprise 95% of the state’s land mass. OPCRH also provides hospitals more than $150,000 in Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program (SHIP) grants to improve health care in their communities.

For more information about National Rural Health Day, visit  To learn more about  the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH), visit And for more information about the Utah Office of Primary Care and Rural Health, visit

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Media Contact:
Owen Quinonez
Community Health Specialist
Office (801) 273-6620
Cell (801) 560-5935