SPOKANE, Wash. — Rural health issues are a topic of action for the current Washington state legislative session and an ongoing concern for health care practitioners, patients and policy-makers.

A two-day conference designed for a wide range of rural health care advocates, including community leaders, administrators, hospital board members, commissioners, providers, policy-makers, public health professionals, medical librarians and others, will be held March 22-23 at the WestCoast Grand Hotel at the Park in downtown Spokane. It is cosponsored by the Area Health Education Center at Washington State University Spokane.

“Bee-lieve in Rural Health!” is designed to provide insight into continuing complex issues facing rural community health systems. Featured topics include critical access hospitals, professional workforce issues, tribal health care issues, home health and rural medical practice issues.

Two free, preconference workshops will be held March 21. “Everyone’s a-Buzz About TeleHealth” will be held at the Deaconess Health and Education Center, and “Culturally Competent Health Care: Tools and Strategies” will be held at the WestCoast Grand Hotel at the Park.

Registration is required for both the preconference workshops and the conference. Professional development contact hours are available. For registration information, contact the AHEC, 509/358-7640, 800/279-0705 or conference@wsu.edu.

Michael Bird, president, American Public Health Association, will be the keynote speaker to open the conference. Other keynote speakers during the two lunches are Charlotte Hardt, president, National Rural Health Association and AHEC assistant director; Mary Selecky, secretary, Washington State Department of Health; and Dennis Braddock, secretary, Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.

The conference is presented by the Washington Rural Health Association and the Washington Statewide Office of Rural Health, including the AHEC; Office of Community and Rural Health, Washington State DOH; University of Washington School of Medicine; WSU; and Western Washington Area Health Education Center.

bc103-01