HAZARD, Ky. (Nov. 9, 2011) – The University of Kentucky’s Center for Excellence in Rural Health (UK CERH) will celebrate its 20th anniversary tomorrow with a ceremony honoring current and former faculty, staff and students. Officials also will announce the addition of a new academic program coming to the center in fall 2012.
The event is slated for 11:30 a.m. in the UK CERH’s Bailey-Stumbo Building, located at 750 Morton Blvd. in Hazard.
The ceremony’s keynote speaker will be U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers, a long-time advocate for the improved health status of Kentucky’s Fifth Congressional District. Others who are scheduled to attend include: UK President Eli Capilouto; Dr. Wayne Myers, the center’s first director and a former National Rural Health Association (NRHA) president; state and local elected officials; and numerous community partners
The UK CERH was created in the early 1990s by mandate of the Kentucky General Assembly. Its mission is to improve rural health care systems – and the health of rural Kentuckians – through education, research, service and community engagement.
“That we came here and did something for the people we serve is what I would like our legacy to be,” said Fran Feltner, director of the UK CERH. “The overall success of the center really stems from the fact that we have the University of Kentucky behind us and that we are part of the communities we serve, so we work as partners to bring the best possible health care to our rural areas.”
More than 550 students have graduated from the UK CERH’s academic programs, with the vast majority still practicing in rural areas. The UK CERH also includes Kentucky Homeplace, a nationally recognized community health worker initiative; the Kentucky Office of Rural Health; and the East Kentucky Family Medicine Residency Program.
Among other accolades, the UK CERH, its programs and its staff have won five NRHA Rural Health Awards, a Pew Award for Excellence in Primary Care, and a U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Innovations in Prevention Award.
The celebration ceremony will conclude with the reading of a proclamation declaring Nov. 10 as Kentucky Rural Health Day. National Rural Health Day – which seeks to increase awareness of the unique health care issues facing rural communities – will be observed Nov. 17, but Gov. Steve Beshear proclaimed the Kentucky-specific day to coincide with the UK CERH’s anniversary event.
“Living and working in rural Kentucky gives us a wonderful opportunity to take care of our friends and neighbors,” Feltner said. “Kentucky Rural Health Day will allow us to say ‘thank you’ to the many rural health care providers who offer comprehensive, compassionate, patient-centered and holistic care to their patients.”
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