Caring for Our Communities: What it Means to be a Rural Health Care Provider

Dragos Banu, MD, FACP, Practice Physician Leader Alison Guile, MD, Regional Physician Leader Kent Hall, MD, Regional Vice President of Medical Affairs

By: Kent Hall, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Alice Hyde Medical Center and CVPH
Dragos Banu, MD, Practice Physician Leader, Alice Hyde Medical Center
Alison Guile, MD, Regional Physician Leader, UVMHN MG/Adirondacks

Living in rural America is special. In a country of 326 million people, we’ve achieved something amazing: preserving the ability to walk out your door and still feel a sense of adventure and pioneerism every day.

That’s part of what brings people to areas like Franklin and Clinton counties in New York every day — and yes, some of those people happen to be doctors. But there’s another thing that draws doctors to communities like ours: You.

Eighteen percent of Americans live in rural areas, which cover 80 percent of America’s land mass, and our rural communities are served by fewer than half of the country’s acute-care hospitals. So yes, the challenges are all too real: patient access, older populations, and public health crises like the opioid epidemic just to name a few.

But if there’s one thing we’ve learned in our years practicing medicine at rural hospitals, it’s that there’s no one we would rather have confronting those problems than a rural health care provider. These are folks who look at those challenges and think: “look what we can accomplish; look at the good we can do.”  

Today, Saturday March 30, is National Doctor’s Day, and so we hope you’ll join us in celebrating the men and women who use their skill and expertise to care for our communities. Because the truth is, they’re not going to celebrate themselves. They’re too busy bringing a child into the world, or phoning a family who recently lost a loved-one, or helping a patient navigate the increasingly-complex health care marketplace.

Rural health care providers don’t do it for the gratitude, and they don’t do it for the money. They do it because it’s the right thing to do — because they want to get up in the morning and do right by their patients, friends, neighbors and communities. They thrive on the opportunity to live, work and raise families alongside the folks they care for each day.

Doctor’s Day makes us wonder what’s next for these amazing, compassionate people we have the pleasure of calling colleagues. How will their integrity, kindness and generosity impact the lives around them tomorrow, next week, or next year?

Their commitment to the safety, care and health of our patients makes our communities a better place to live, and for that we can’t thank them enough.