CEO Update: Farmers, Football, and Healthcare

CEO Update: Farmers, Football, and Healthcare

Staff_MichelleMills_150 x 150Way to go Broncos, the game was amazing!  As you know on February 9th, Colorado showed its pride as over one million people flooded the streets of Denver to welcome the Broncos home after the Super Bowl win.  Local patriotism represented by every corner of our vast state made us again realize why we live here, and why we work daily to sustain its vitality.  Although I’m a huge supporter of our football team, I must admit that I relish in watching the commercials each year.  One in particular spoke to me as being relevant to why I do what I do.

Whether you like trucks, or whether you have a religious background, I’m assured that most rural community members understood the message spoken by the Ram Trucks commercial.  In order for my words to resonate, you’ll need to first watch.  The link is here.  The commercial starts off with images of endless plains and a large field with a lone plow.  A man’s voice arises, one that sounds rugged with grit.  A voice you can tell that has spent hours outside among the wind, pulling cattle together, facing the countless summers’ suns.

His main message is that farmers, and largely rural community members if we’re elaborating, are the backbone of our country – feeding it, providing economic impact, and remaining the foundation of our nation.  I’ve taken the liberty of providing some quotes, and then associating it with the importance of sustaining rural healthcare.

“God said, ‘I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the field, milk cows again, eat supper, then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board.’ So God made a farmer.”

When that farmer needs medical care, they need it locally.  Without resources in their community, that farmer must drive upwards of hours to the nearest facility.  Those farmers bring in millions of dollars to the state’s economy, joining healthcare as one of the top three industries in rural areas.  Nationally, three hospitals have closed because of financial burden, just since January.  Although Colorado has not yet lost a hospital, we’re on the brink.  We actively support the National Rural Health Association’s Save Rural Hospitals Act, and so can you.  For more information on how you can stop the cuts to our hospitals and farmers, contact Kelly Erb at  What will you be doing to stop our hospitals from shutting their doors and creating a healthcare desert?

“God said, ‘I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bales, yet gentle enough to yean lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink-comb pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the leg of a meadowlark.’  So God made a farmer.”

We need the next generation of rural doctors who will be there when the farmer isn’t strong enough.  To do so, we must take action on training and creating adequate pathways for these future doctors to enter the community.  We have joined a cohort supporting a Colorado bill that would provide financial incentives for rural primary care providers to precept students that will soon enter the workforce.  There is a shortage of over 100 primary care preceptors in our rural areas of the state, and it will only be growing.  Without opportunities to train where they will work, we’ll most definitely lose some of our most valuable future rural healthcare providers to the city.  What will you do make sure your community has the care it needs?  Join us in the support of this bill by contacting Kelly Erb at

“It had to be somebody who would plow deep and straight and not cut corners.  Somebody who would bale a family together with soft, strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh, and then sigh and then reply with sighing eyes when his son says that he wants to spend his life doing what his Dad does.  So God made a farmer.”

Our rural community members do not cut corners, and neither can we.  As over 40 percent of the rural population are Medicaid or Medicare beneficiaries, and with the aging population rising, we must ensure that our rural healthcare facilities have the ability to keep their doors open.  Our farmers need healthcare, and that may not happen locally without an adjustment to the expiration of the Medicaid provider rate.  The expiration date is coming quickly, and providers will take a 26 percent reduction in reimbursement if we don’t help create a sustainable solution.  For many of our facilities, this will determine the fate of their existence.  What will you do to ensure this doesn’t happen?  We can help you find your voice.  Contact Kelly Erb at  to get involved.

Our farmers represent pivotal characters of rural Colorado, and we must continue to support their work by providing mechanisms for healthy people and healthy communities.  We’re working diligently every day to make this happen, but we need your voice as well.  Help us advocate.  Help us educate.  Help us keep rural Colorado sustainable.


Much is happening in healthcare. Check out my monthly CEO update for the latest in rural healthcare.


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