RRH celebrates National Rural Health

RRH celebrates National Rural HealthRidgecrest Regional Hospital Jayde Glenn – Americans gather on the fourth Thursday of November to give thanks. But on the third Thursday, a lesser-known national observance celebrated the selfless service and community-minded spirit of providers and employees in rural healthcare. In the following series, Ridgecrest Regional Hospital (RRH) explores the challenges of providing rural care, the local milestones in expanding and improving care, provider investment, ongoing advocacy, and the future plans for protecting access to quality healthcare in our remote community

Part 1 — Rural Health Clinic: our portal to world-class care

Since opening the Rural Health Clinic in 2010, Ridgecrest Hospital has expanded access to services in obstetrics, pediatrics, family medicine, mental health, dental, urology, gastroenterology, nephrology and more.

This stands in particular contrast to the national trends in obstetric and maternal health services that collapsed due to clinical shortages and financial constraints, with 165 rural hospitals closing these units between 2004 and 2014.

“This has been a real labor of love,” said Michelle Whalley, Rural Health Clinic administrator. “We are extremely fortunate to have the excellent pre-natal and obstetric services at RRH.”

Almost 20 percent of rural communities lack mental health services of any kind.

“While we are not yet fully meeting the need, we are focused on growing our mental health services,” said Michelle Whalley, Rural Health Clinic administrator.

Current offerings include outpatient psychiatry, therapy and substance abuse counseling services five days a week, as well as caring for the residents of Bella Sera.

RRH also worked hard to secure a contract under the “VA choice” program, making it possible for veterans to receive primary and specialty healthcare locally.

During the last several years, RRH has also consolidated its offerings so that providers and services that historically were not available to the un- or under-insured are now more accessible.

“The question of how to provide high quality, sustainable health care to our community has become paramount in recent years,” said Whalley.

“We don’t want our patients to make their decisions about healthcare based on what they can afford, or how far they have to drive — we want them to be able to make decisions based on their needs.” Rural Health Clinic services continue to bridge the gap between critical services and those most vulnerable and in need.

Courtesy photo: Ridgecrest Regional Hospital Rural Health Clinic staff and providers.

Story First Published: 2021-11-26