Care in Every County

UTA hosts first Rural Health Conference

From left: Elanda Douglas, clinical assistant professor; Aspen Drude, manager; and Elizabeth Merwin, CONHI dean, lead UTA’s Center for Rural Health.


Late last year, rural medical experts from across Texas met at UTA for the inaugu­ral Rural Health Conference, focusing on how all Texans, regardless of location, could have access to quality medical care.

The event was hosted by UTA’s Center for Rural Health. Funded by a $4 million legislative appropriation by the state of Texas, the center aims to improve rural nursing and education and the health outcomes of rural populations.

John Henderson, president and CEO of the Texas Organization of Rural & Community Hospitals, kicked off the conference with a speech discussing the current state of rural health care in the state, highlighting the cascade of losses that happened when the hospital in Bowie, Texas, closed in 2019.

“It’s like this domino effect,” he said. “You see the whole community fall down when they lose their hospital.”

These are the kinds of challenges UTA is hoping to address through its College of Nursing and Health Innovation (CONHI) and the Center for Rural Health.

“This allows us to work together with rural communities across Texas to see what we can do collectively to make an impact on access to care and quality of care, particularly to address any health workforce shortage,” says Elizabeth Merwin, the center’s director and CONHI dean.

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Summer 2023 Magazine

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