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Maryland Rural Health Plan Serves as Roadmap to Create Healthier Rural Communities

Baltimore, MD (Feb. 13, 2018) – The Maryland Rural Health Association (MRHA) released findings from a year-long comprehensive examination of the rural health care needs of Maryland. The 2018 Maryland Rural Health Plan encompasses existing county health plans, Community Health Needs Assessments, State Health Improvement Process (SHIP) data, results from a state appointed study on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and feedback from citizens and healthcare professionals in each of Maryland’s 18 rural counties.

The 2018 Maryland Rural Health Plan highlighted six areas of need:
Access to care
Sustainable funding mechanisms for health care services
Care coordination
Chronic disease prevention and management
Health literacy and health insurance literacy
Outreach and education

“Many rural residents face structural, economic, and physical barriers to health care while rural health care providers seek strategies and opportunities to increase access and services available to their communities,” said Maryland Department of Health Secretary Robert R. Neall. “With 25 percent of Marylanders living in rural communities, it is more important than ever to reduce barriers, remove gaps, and increase access to general practitioners, specialists, behavioral health, and oral health providers, as well as urgent care and emergency facilities.”

The 2018 Maryland Rural Health Plan outlined several recommendations in three categories:
Policy recommendations
System-based recommendations
Individual recommendations

“The 2018 Maryland Rural Health Plan is a collaborative document that synthesizes the needs of Maryland’s most vulnerable populations. MRHA looks forward to taking the recommendations and turning them into real projects to improve Maryland’s rural health landscape,” said Lara Wilson, Executive Director of MRHA. “The plan documents needs and serves as a roadmap to creating healthier rural communities. MRHA will now work with statewide partners to begin actualizing changes based on the outlined findings.”

The 2018 Maryland Rural Health Plan was made possible through a collaboration between MRHA, the Maryland Department of Health, the Rural Maryland Council, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The plan can be viewed and downloaded from the MRHA website: http://www.mdruralhealth.org/maryland-rural-health-plan/.

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The Maryland Department of Health is the State agency that protects Maryland’s public health. We work together to promote and improve the health and safety of all Marylanders through disease prevention, access to care, quality management, and community engagement. Stay connected: http://www.twitter.com/MDHealthDept and http://www.facebook.com/MarylandDHMH. ​

The Maryland Rural Health Association (MRHA) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate and advocate for the optimal health of rural communities and their residents. MRHA is a member organization comprised of local health departments, hospitals, community health centers, area health education centers, health professionals, and community members in rural areas throughout Maryland. To learn more, visit www.mdruralhealth.org.

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