Data shows that rural healthcare organizations – like Ringgold County Hospital (RCH) in Mount Ayr, Iowa – that implement community involvement strategies can improve the quality of healthcare in the communities they serve. That’s because community engagement addresses socioeconomic issues that are at the root causes of many healthcare issues which, in turn, improves health outcomes and helps reduce the costs of services.
The goals of community involvement in rural hospitals are the same as those in urban and suburban communities, namely:
- To improve the quality of available healthcare
- To help prevent disease
- To reduce disparities in healthcare
- To prevent violence and promote safety
- To improve access to healthcare
The more these goals intersect with the social determinants of health – the conditions in the environment where people live that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks – the more effective the community engagement program will be. Take, for example, a program that promotes a healthy diet and exercise. It may not be as effective if access and transportation issues are what it is preventing individuals from making healthy nutritional choices and enjoying a physically active lifestyle.
Community involvement requires rural hospitals to collaborate with a variety of stakeholders to achieve their common goals. These collaborators may include:
- Public health agencies
- Public safety agencies
- Religious organizations
- Charitable organizations
- Environmental organizations
Why Community Involvement Is Important
Community involvement in rural hospitals offers stakeholders a host of benefits. The primary benefit, of course, is improved community members’ health. However, a community’s participation in a healthcare organization’s engagement program also can result in:
- The use of limited resources in ways that better align with the community’s specific health needs.
- An improvement in the effectiveness and sustainability of health initiatives.
- Greater awareness of the social determinants of health and the need to address the root causes of health issues.
- A new perspective among members of the community of the rural hospital’s role in promoting health.
- Enhanced communication among stakeholders fosters further collaboration and understanding.
- The application of stakeholder knowledge and experience to improve community health.
- The expanded capacity of a community’s health care system.
The benefits of community involvement are especially significant to the special healthcare challenges that rural communities often deal with – such as reduced access to healthcare, poverty, substance abuse, and chronic disease. By forming partnerships with local entities, rural hospitals can maximize their limited resources and build trust with community members.
RCH Community Outreach
Ringgold County Hospital values the communities it serves and strives to provide excellent hospital services, family medicine, and specialty care clinics to ensure a positive healthcare experience for its patients. As part of that mission, we are committed to community outreach and service with the continuous creation of medical services and programs dedicated to helping our patients, neighbors, and fellow citizens – regardless of profit to the hospital. These initiatives include:
- Health education and events, such as free cholesterol screenings, monthly monitoring of vital signs, 5K sponsorship, free sports physicals, and providing first aid kits and athletic trainers to local schools.
- Speakers for educational purposes, free of charge.
- Partnerships with health and other organizations in the community, including:
- Ringgold County Public Health
- Ringgold County Wellness Coalition
- Hospice facilities and providers
- Mount Ayr Community School District
- Diagonal Community School District
- Clearview Nursing Home
- Clearview Assisted Living
- Mount Ayr Healthcare Center
- Maple Ridge Assisted Living
When it comes to responding to the healthcare needs of our shared community, RCH is your partner in health. So, if you notice a local need when it comes to health and wellness, please let us know. We want to help those we serve to be as healthy and happy as possible. You can contact us in Mount Ayr, Iowa, by calling (641) 464-3226.