Newswise — American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology (AANA) recognizes National Rural Health Day 2022 (NRHD) as an opportunity to honor the community-minded focus of healthcare in rural America. Since 2010, the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health set aside the third Thursday of every November to showcases the efforts of rural healthcare providers and other stakeholders to address the unique healthcare challenges that rural communities and citizens face.

Today more than ever, rural communities must address accessibility issues, including a lack of a healthcare providers, the needs of an aging population suffering from more chronic conditions, access to healthcare and larger percentages of uninsured and underinsured citizens.

As proposed by the Rural Health Equity Act, we urge Congress to create an Office of Rural Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). With this office, CDC will have more discretion and resources to analyze, study, and address the unique health care challenges and disparities faced by rural communities across America.  

In November 2020 during the surge of COVID-19 in rural America, AANA joined several other healthcare organizations to bring equitable access to care in rural America and bridge the rural divide. The Rural Health Action Alliance (RHAA), a coalition of healthcare providers and facilities who provide high-quality, evidence-based care to millions of Americans, seeks to advance federal policies to improve rural health outcomes.

“Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) are the primary providers of anesthesia care in rural settings and have been instrumental in delivering care during the pandemic, providing care to patients where they live,” said AANA President Angela Mund, DNP, CRNA. “Additionally, CRNAs form the backbone of surgical deliveries in these rural communities. For example, CRNAs play an essential role for expectant families, allowing first-rate delivery experiences without maternal patients having to travel great distances for obstetrics care.”

The Rural Health Action Alliance is committed to advancing solutions to the long-term challenges facing rural providers and patients. National Rural Health Day is an opportunity to honor those healthcare providers, community members and key stakeholders who keep rural communities going despite challenges including diminishing resources and population loss. 

“As we celebrate National Rural Health Day and reflect on the obstacles to providing health care in rural areas, AANA joins our partners in RHAA to urge Congress to continue investment and to provide stability in the rural health infrastructure,” said Mund. “It is critical to reauthorize the State Offices of Rural Health program this year to ensure these offices have the financial resources they need to improve care delivery in rural health settings.“