Rural Health Redesign Center created to transform rural health nationwide

Access to healthcare in the nation’s rural communities is an ongoing source of concern for residents, healthcare providers, and state and federal agencies. Between 2010 and 2022, 138 rural hospitals stopped providing inpatient services, and 75 of these were complete hospital closures. 

The Rural Health Redesign Center (RHRC), a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, was launched in 2020 to address this issue. The RHRC’s mission is to protect and promote access to high-quality healthcare in rural communities by encouraging innovation in healthcare delivery, with the overarching vision of transforming rural healthcare throughout the United States. It has made significant progress and is partnering with the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and other public agencies to expand its efforts across the nation. 

“In addition to providing essential services and care for families and individuals, rural healthcare providers are often the backbone of their communities, providing the greatest number of jobs and supporting the local economy,” said Janice Walters, RHRC Chief Operating Officer of Programs. “Rural hospitals, clinics, and other providers are struggling to survive under the current healthcare system. We have seen firsthand how the closure of these institutions profoundly impacts the surrounding community’s well-being, and we are passionate about finding solutions to support these institutions through healthcare reform, workforce development, and other innovative tactics.”

 The RHRC provides customized, rurally relevant technical assistance to rural healthcare organizations to help them remain open and enhance their services to their community. 

The RHRC’s work began in 2020 with the Pennsylvania Rural Health Model (PARHM) project, which now impacts 1.3 million state residents through a participant base of 18 hospitals and six payers. Data reflects the program’s positive impacts on the hospitals and communities served and among the residents of communities with unemployment, poverty, and disability rates above the state average. In addition to improving services for rural residents across the state, participant hospitals’ financial stability and overall operating margins have improved. 

The PARHM project’s success laid the groundwork for the RHRC to expand its programs nationwide through several additional projects, with the support of the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and other public agencies. Over the past two years, the RHRC’s impact and reach has increased dramatically across the United States.

“These projects offer exciting new opportunities to transform rural America and rural healthcare by leveraging our expertise in this critically important area,” RHRC Executive Director Gary Zegiestowsky. “With the support of our partners, we are confident that we can make a profound and positive difference for individuals, families, and healthcare providers in our nation’s rural communities.”

 

About the Rural Health Redesign Center

The Rural Health Redesign Center (RHRC) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit working to help rural communities across the nation thrive through healthcare reform and community-based strategies designed to maintain and improve access to care. The RHRC serves as the Technical Assistance Center for the Rural Northern Border Region Healthcare Support Program and the Rural Emergency Hospital Designation. In addition, the organization administrates the Pennsylvania Rural Health Model and leads the Peer Recovery Expansion Project. The RHRC staff participates in speaking events and provides consulting services to share effective strategies that can transform and support rural communities across the nation. Areas of expertise include social determinants of health, global budget reimbursement, and value-based care.

Janice Walters
Executive Director
Janice has been leading the work of the RHRC since its inception. She has a background in health finance and is a highly rated rural health expert with over 20 years of relevant leadership experience.