A recent health report found that rural Virginians tend to die at an earlier age than those who live in non-rural areas.
Part of the Shenandoah Valley is included in that rural area category. Now, the area is getting the attention of the Virginia State Rural Health Plan. Their goal is to extend the health care infrastructure to rural areas.
While Winchester isn't considered a rural area, people in the surrounding rural areas come to Winchester for health care.
Rural areas were found to have a life span of 59.6 years compared to the states average of 78.5 years.
The Virginia Health Equity Report found that rural areas also tend to have higher poverty rates and lower educational levels, which relates directly back to limited health opportunities.
"There are as you can imagine more providers and nurses and doctors in communities that are cities, towns, urban areas. And as you get into rural areas in Virginia, you're less likely to find as many providers. Folks just don't have as much access to those people," said Dr. Kathryn Ganske.
Ganske is the Dean of the School of Nursing at Shenandoah University.
The 2013 Virginia State Rural Health Plan is still in the process of being developed. While other plans have been effective, leaders say there are still several challenges.
The health plan is hosting a public regional meeting at 9 a.m. Thursday in Winchester at the Our Health, Inc. campus.
Our Health, Inc.
329 N. Cameron Street, Suite 200
Eagles Board Room
Winchester, VA 22601
It's a chance for the public to voice their concerns when it comes to health needs.
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