During National Rural Health Day, Scenic Bluffs Community Health Centers Reflects on Rural Roots
November 17, 2022- The third Thursday of November is set aside each year to recognize National Rural Health Day (NRHD), a day of celebration of rural communities, organized by the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH). According to NOROSRH, NRHD is an opportunity to “Celebrate the Power of Rural” by honoring the selfless, community-minded spirit that prevails in rural America. NRHD showcases the efforts of rural healthcare providers, State Offices of Rural Health and other rural stakeholders to support the healthcare needs of rural citizens today and into the future.
Scenic Bluffs Community Health Centers is proud to take part in celebrating the power of rural, acknowledging the ongoing efforts and collaborations that support their unique opportunity to be a rural healthcare provider. For more than 28 years, Scenic Bluffs has been a primary provider of rural healthcare services, with a mission of bringing healthcare access to their neighbors in the region. The foundation of Scenic Bluffs is a strong example of the “power of rural”, as the organization originated in the community-minded spirts that identified a need for rural healthcare access in the western Wisconsin region.
In 1992, healthcare access in Cashton was provided once per week through a program called “Project WATCH”. Project WATCH was 37-foot-long bus that was converted into a rural health clinic on wheels, traveling to different communities in Monroe and La Crosse counties. While this was a good stop-gap measure to bring services to communities in need, it became apparent quickly that the area would benefit from full-time healthcare services. Local community members came together to write for a grant to support this work, developing a Federally Qualified Community Health Center (FQHC) in Cashton. The grant to support this work was approved in 1993, establishing Scenic Bluffs Community Health Centers in 1994.
Since opening its doors, Scenic Bluffs has brought high-quality, affordable healthcare to the western Wisconsin region, while striving to reduce health disparities and address social barriers to care for their now more than 8,000 patients each year. Scenic Bluffs helps increase access to crucial primary care by reducing barriers such as cost, lack of insurance, distance and language for patients. What started as providing primary medical care to the community, has now expanded to serve Monroe, Vernon, La Crosse, Crawford and Grant counties. Services of the Health Center now include medical, dental, behavioral health, chiropractic, acupuncture and pharmacy services. Scenic Bluffs also offers support services such as supportive pharmacy services, health education, on-site interpreters and employs three full-time patient access coordinators, known as the Help Team, who help remove barriers to care. The Help Team offers free services to patients and community members, such as health insurance enrollment through Marketplace and BadgerCare, FoodShare, medical transportation needs and prescription drug programs. They can provide information on area food pantries, thrift stores, community care applications, and other local agencies.
According to the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), there are more than 5,000 rural health clinics and over 3,600 rural health centers or health center look-alikes providing the backbone of the primary care infrastructure in rural America. These clinics are essential for the more than 61 million people who depend on them for care. Rural clinics, such as Scenic Bluffs, are a key component to the rural safety net, deliver a significant level of health care and other needed services to uninsured, Medicaid and other patients facing barriers to healthcare.
Scenic Bluffs has Health Centers in both Cashton and Norwalk, with additional service locations in La Crosse, Viroqua and several area school districts. Scenic Bluffs accepts Wisconsin Medicaid, Medicare, most private insurance and cares for those without insurance. Additionally, Scenic Bluffs offers a sliding-fee scale program, available to those with or without insurance, which may reduce the cost of care to those who qualify. Qualifications are based-on the individual’s household size and income.
For more information on services provided by Scenic Bluffs, visit scenicbluffs.org or call 608-654-5100. To learn more about rural health clinics or National Rural Health Day, visit www.thepowerofrural.org. To learn more about Community Health Centers, visit www.nachc.org.