National Rural Health Day

This is a special newsletter celebrating National Rural Health Day. We are proud to recognize the innovation, quality of care, and dedication of health professionals and volunteers who serve 60 million people across the nation living in rural communities, including individuals and families in rural parts of our region.

The National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health sets aside the third Thursday of every November to “Celebrate the Power of Rural” by honoring the selfless, community-minded, “can do” spirit that prevails in rural America.

You can learn more about how this day is being celebrated across the country at www.PowerofRural.org . Also on this website you can explore a partnership pledge and read about individuals and organizations selected as 2017 Community Stars.

Celebrating the Power of Rural:

Free Clinic of Powhatan and

Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services

A patient at Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services receives dental care.
A remarkable group of people in Goochland and Powhatan counties devote their time and energy to ensure that these rural communities have access to quality health care.

The staff and volunteers at the Free Clinic of Powhatan and Goochland Free Clinic and Families Services help to fill the gaps in the safety net for families who would otherwise have few options.

We asked clinic leaders and doctors to share their insights about the inequities their patients face.

Connie Moslow, executive director of the Free Clinic of Powhatan, noted that roughly 70 percent of the patient population in each clinic falls under 100 percent of the federal poverty level. Most patients face challenges with finding transportation, safe housing, access to food and other necessities. They lack insurance, and the stresses of daily life often make it difficult to maintain medical treatments.

“We understand that health is larger than access to medical care,” said Sally Graham, executive director of Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services (GFCFS). “You can’t be healthy when you’re hungry or chronically cold. Free Clinics also help their patients connect with resources to address the unmet needs that impact their health. GFCFS provides those services on-site while other clinics may partner with local resources to meet those needs.”

Both clinics are lucky to have well-respected cardiologists serving on their boards and providing care to patients: Dr. Robert Bennett in Goochland and Dr. Hermes Kontos in Powhatan.

“Currently, I wear several hats,” said Dr. Bennett. “From the beginning, I have been the Medical Director of the clinic, but [Executive Director] Sally Graham has done all the work! I get to see patients! That is why I went to medical school and why I love my job. The joy in their eyes when they realize that someone cares cannot be valued.”

Dr. Kontos volunteers every Thursday at the Free Clinic of Powhatan.

“The patients are very appreciative of the care they receive,” he said. “The patients like the fact that we allow time to talk and interact. They appreciate the fact that they are not rushed to get in and get out. They appreciate just being able to have access to care. Otherwise, they’d just be in the emergency room or have no care at all.”

Both physicians are long-time residents of their respective counties and bring a wealth of experience.

Dr. Kontos served at Virginia Commonwealth University from 1960 until he retired in 2003, holding a variety of roles, including chair of cardiology, dean of the medical school, vice president for health sciences and the first CEO of VCU Health System.

Dr. Bennett has been the medical director in Goochland since September 2000 and has been in private practice as a cardiologist for more than three decades. He has taught in VCU’s departments of medicine and health administration, as well as at the University of Virginia.

If you are a health provider and are interested in volunteering at one of these clinics, please call Goochland at 804-556-0476 or Powhatan at 804-598-5637.

Get the Facts about Health Equity in Rural Communities

Patient-Doctor Ratio
The patient-to-primary care physician ratio in rural areas is only 39.8 physicians per 100,000 people, compared to 53.3 physicians per 100,000 in urban areas.

Source: National Rural Health Association

Rural Women
More than half of rural women live more than 30 minutes from a hospital offering perinatal services. Rural women also tend to begin prenatal care later than suburban women.

Source: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Quality Housing
Thirty percent of the nation’s housing without piped hot and cold water is in rural areas.

Source: Housing Assistance Council

Food Security
More than 20 percent of rural households with children are food insecure — lacking access to sufficient food — compared to 16.5 percent of all households with children.

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture