Post Content

Posted by Cathleen McElligott, MS, RD. Cathleen is the Director of the State Office of Rural Health in the Bureau of Community Health and Prevention at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

From the Cape and Islands all the way to the Berkshires, rural healthcare organizations and community groups across the state today are celebrating the first annual National Rural Health Day.

Did you know that in Massachusetts, more than one in 10 people live in the 54% of the state's landmass classified as rural? Massachusetts’ rural, small-town communities are diverse geographically, economically, and culturally. Our rural towns stretch from the seashores and Island communities in the southeast, to the scenic pastures and small towns of central Massachusetts, to the river valleys, hill towns and forested mountains of the western part of the state. 

With a rich history of creativity and ingenuity in addressing local problems, rural communities are great places for health care collaboration and innovation. Like so many other aspects of small town living, healthcare providers in rural communities really get to know the people they care for. What’s more, rural healthcare organizations are also typically the economic foundation of their communities, with every dollar spent generating more than double that amount for the local economy.

All the while, rural health care organizations are constantly evolving – tackling issues of accessibility, infrastructure, and workforce while meeting the unique needs of aging populations. Towards that end, community-based health programs and locally-based ambulatory outpatient, emergency medical services, and skilled nursing services are especially critical in rural Massachusetts.

NRHD 090
(l to r) DPH State Office of Rural Health staff Amy Waldman, Cathleen McElligott, Molly Butler, and Ronnie Rom, with Jackie Parseghian of AmeriCorps VISTA

To honor these efforts, Governor Patrick today issued a proclamation heralding the first annual National Rural Health Day, and all this week events are being held across the state to honor the strengths of rural communities and to build awareness of the unique healthcare challenges they face.  

DPH is partnering for this year’s celebration with the New England Rural Health RoundTable, the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Rural Scholars Program, Berkshire Health Systems, and additional rural Massachusetts hospitals, community health centers, and community groups. 

Learn more about the DPH Office of Rural Health at www.mass.gov/dph/ruralhealth. To find out more about National Rural Health Day, visit newenglandruralhealth.org

Written By:


health communication writer and editor

Recent Posts

HOW ‘BOUT THEM APPLES? posted on Sep 19

HOW ‘BOUT THEM APPLES?

This is a rough time of year for someone like me, as I try desperately to hold onto summer for as long as possible. I bristle at each and every reference to Labor Day, which now apparently serves as the bellwether of summer’s demise (it   …Continue Reading HOW ‘BOUT THEM APPLES?

Goodbye berries, Hello Apples! posted on Sep 18

Goodbye berries, Hello Apples!

Saying farewell to summer fruits and vegetables can be hard. But, once you remember all of the delicious produce that the autumn harvest brings, the season just gets better and better. Apples are one of my favorite fruits of the fall. There are many varieties   …Continue Reading Goodbye berries, Hello Apples!

Highlights of the September 17th Public Health Council Meeting posted on Sep 17

This month’s meeting of the Public Health Council featured a series of three Determination of Need (DoN) requests, a status update on draft regulations related to immunizations, and two informational presentations on two key Department initiatives. The Council first took up a Determination of Need application with   …Continue Reading Highlights of the September 17th Public Health Council Meeting