Thursday, May 14, 2015

Walk for Rural Health - June 1 Walk with us to Washington, DC to save rural hospitals in America PLZ RT

Good morning--our national partners are desperately searching for someone from the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas--ideally from Starr County, but ok if from other parts--to participate in a walk to protest the closure of rural hospitals. The details are below. Please contact Laura Guerra Cardus, MD of Texas Children's Defense Fund if you can help  (copying me please:
North Carolina conservative Mayor Adam O’Neal is organizing a WALK from North Carolina to D.C. to bring attention to the need for states to expand coverage and/or find other ways to increase funds to rural hospitals.  It looks like south Texas' Starr County is on the rural hospital list and likely represents an area at risk for hospital closure.  Having a Texas representative from a rural areas on this walk would likely bring important media attention to the need for coverage expansion in Texas. 

Is there  anyone you can think of from Starr County who would be a good representative to join this walk?  We hear most  expenses will be paid by TORCH and we can help cover the rest, so that it would be a no cost to the participant.  While the walk is two weeks long – June 1-15 - the Texas group can do a relay with several different representatives joining for 3-4 days.

Because of the short timeline, they are looking to confirm a walker by this Sunday.  Please let me know if there is anyone you can think of.  If your organizations cover that region and are up for a walk, you would all also make great candidates.  Below you can find more details about the walk and pasted at the bottom is the letter from Mayor O’Neal. 
The details:
  • The walk will be June 1-June 15, 273 miles in 2 weeks.
o   They began planning at the February 2015 National Rural Health forum, where it was estimated that 283 US hospitals face closure in 2015.  (apologies if my notes reversed any digits).
o   They also are speaking to the impact that “non-Medicaid Expansion” has in states that have not Closed the Gap, and calling on those states to come up with a plan to fill the funding gap for rural hospitals.
  • It IS Ok if 2 or more walkers want to make it a “RELAY”:  i.e., not required that one person do the whole 2 weeks, but ideally coordinate so there is a Texas rep the whole time.
  • There is a commitment from Texas to fund the $1950 costs of the motel rooms and bus transport for the full 2 weeks for a Texas walker. 
o   We would need to make sure the walkers can get to and from NC/DC and have food money.
  • The 2014 walk by Mayor O’Neal after the Belhaven hospital got coverage from WSJ, WAPO, AP, McClatchy papers.
o   He did it after the first (but sadly not last) death in his community after the ER and hospital were closed. 

PLEASE forward this email to any lists or individuals you think might be interested.
LET ME KNOW if you want to be a walker!

Anne Dunkelberg ▪ Associate Director  ▪ Center for Public Policy Priorities ▪ 512.320.0222 ext. 102

 us Database: 4235/8701 - Release Date: 12/08/14




Walk with us to Washington, DC to save rural hospitals in America.
Rural hospitals are facing the greatest challenge to their existence in the history of our country. In the next year, 283 rural hospitals face the uncertainty of possible closure. It is time to act. We are asking rural hospitals from all over the country to send a representative to our June 1st, 2015 walk from Belhaven, North Carolina to Washington DC to petition Congress to pass measures to ensure rural hospitals sustainability.
In July 2014, we saw the closure of our critical access hospital in Belhaven, North Carolina. After the closure, everyone seemed to think all hope was lost for our healthcare and the economic future in our town. With the assistance of Reverend William Barber, President of North Carolina  NAACP and Al McSurely, Civic Rights Attorney we began a walk to Washington, DC.  We received national media coverage on our walk and a White House sponsored meeting with key people in Washington to help us begin the process of reopening our hospital. This walk was solely responsible for keeping hope alive in our small town.
Now it is time for America to stand up and demand that Washington DC work on our rural hospital crisis. Our rural hospitals are just as important as any urban medical centers. We feed America and deserve to keep our current level of healthcare. When hospitals close, emergency rooms close and that means needless deaths -- our children, family members and neighbors. We have to stand up for ourselves and THE WALK will get Washington’s and the nation's attention.
THE WALK starts a national debate about the condition of rural hospitals today. Horrific damage is done to communities who lose a hospital. The potential closure in 2015 of 283 hospitals means 36,000 lost healthcare jobs, 50,000 community jobs lost, 10.6 billion in lost GDP in rural areas. Also, if you have just 10 needless deaths per closed hospital per year that means 2830 needless deaths of Americans each year. This would be equivalent to a 9/11 attack happening year after year.
Please watch the videos on this website and commit to doing something meaningful by signing up to join us on THE WALK.
This is an issue we all agree on regardless of party or politics. Let’s show Washington how we the people can cross party lines and work on this most important issue. Let’s set an example that Washington can follow now and in the future.  Reverend Barber and Mayor O'Neal have become symbols of the power that is generated when health care for poor people becomes a national moral issue.

Adam O'Neal, Mayor, Belhaven, NC
Dr. Charles Boyette, 2003 National Country Doctor of the Year
Bob Zellner, Civic Rights Activist

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