News Local/State

Rural Health Care Providers To Gather For Training In Champaign

illinois rural hospital association

Rural health care providers and administrators from across Illinois are coming to Champaign this week for the annual conference of the Illinois Rural Health Association. They'll receive hands-on training to help them care for patients in underserved areas.

Margaret Vaughn, who leads the Illinois Rural Health Association, said one of the greatest challenges rural hospitals face is recruiting health care workers to the region.

“While 25 percent of the population reside in rural areas, only 10 percent of physicians practice there,” Vaughn said.

She said that’s why one of the focus areas of this year's conference will be how to overcome recruitment challenges.

Attendees will also learn how to prepare for emergencies, respond to an active shooter situation, increase access to addiction treatment through telemedicine, and stay compliant with regulations for rural health facilities.

During a time when hospitals in rural areas struggle to stay afloat, Vaughn said some facilities can get federal assistance by applying to be a critical access hospital or rural health center.  

The federal designations come with higher payments for services, but the facilities must also meet certain standards.

“There’s a lot of extra compliance that’s required and a lot of additional regulations,” she said.

To help rural health facilities stay up-to-date on those regulations, the conference will offer training tailored to rural healthcare administrators.

Registration closes Tuesday, August 8 for the conference, which begins Wednesday at the Hilton Garden Inn in Champaign.

Follow Christine on Twitter: @CTHerman