The 36th annual Rural Health Conference kicked off Wednesday at the Riverhouse on the Deschutes in Bend. The two-day conference attracts health care leaders from around the state to collaborate on ways to address health care barriers in rural Oregon.
The agenda covers topics including working with patients in their homes, providing better health care to diverse communities, and how the shortage of affordable housing affects the hiring process for health care workers.
NewsChannel 21 spoke with Robert Duehmig, the interim director of Oregon Health and Science University’s Office of Rural Health. He says there are various obstacles facing health care providers in rural areas and the people they serve.
“We want our rural communities to thrive,” Duehmig says. “Some of the concrete steps (to take) are knowing who your partners are, knowing who else is working in your community so you can work together and to help the clinics, the hospitals, and public health folks here understand what changes are happening (within the state).”
He adds that helping providers transition from medical school to the workforce is also a big factor in improving access to rural health care. The issues that face providers include student debt, graduation rates and affordable housing.
“(We have to) make sure the education system is working with the needs in the rural communities,” Duehmig says.
Speakers at the event include Patrick Allen, director of the Oregon Health Authority; Dr. Paul Gorman, the assistant dean of rural medical education at OHSU, and students from various Oregon medical schools.
For more details about the topics covered at the conference, visit the Oregon Office of Rural Health at https://www.ohsu.edu/oregon-office-of-rural-health/oregon-rural-health-conference.