Dunckhorst meets with federal legislators in Washington D.C.

HGH CEO Robyn Dunckhorst poses by the Sarah Winnemucca statue in Washington D.C.

HGH CEO Robyn Dunckhorst poses by the Sarah Winnemucca statue in Washington D.C.

Humboldt General Hospital (HGH) CEO, Robyn Dunckhorst, made a significant impact at the Rural Health Policy Institute held from Feb. 13-15 in Washington, D.C. 

This prestigious event, organized by the National Rural Health Association (NRHA), brought together hundreds of rural advocates from across the United States to champion rural healthcare. Dunckhorst was one of two rural CEOs from Nevada to meet with our federal legislators from Nevada to shed light on current concerns affecting rural healthcare nationally and within our state.

Dunckhorst’s focused attention during the institute was directed towards several key areas crucial to the well-being of rural communities. 

Among her priorities were the Rural Communities Opioid Response Team (RCORP), Ground Ambulance services, the Save America’s Rural Hospitals Act, and addressing the shortage of physicians in rural areas.

Rural hospitals like HGH play an indispensable role in providing essential healthcare services to local communities. However, the challenges they face are daunting. 

Since 2010, nearly 170 rural hospitals across the nation have closed or ceased inpatient services, leaving residents with the arduous task of traveling long distances to access basic healthcare.

The closure of rural hospitals not only deprives communities of vital healthcare services but also results in the loss of major employers and community nucleus, profoundly affecting the larger community.

One of the critical issues Dunckhorst targeted during the institute is the pressing problem of workforce shortages in rural healthcare providers, a challenge particularly acute in rural Nevada. Currently, there are 5,467 Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) in the United States, with over 60% of them situated in rural regions. Despite rural areas representing nearly 20% of the U.S. population, only a mere 10% of physicians practice in these areas.

HGH keenly feels the impact of these shortages, especially in recruiting physicians to Winnemucca. To mitigate this challenge, the hospital has implemented innovative solutions, such as creating contracts that allow physicians to work on a week-on, week-off basis, enabling them to travel back to their home towns. This approach has been instrumental in staffing vital healthcare services like the Women’s Clinic and the Rural Health Clinic, which are crucial resources for the community.

Dunckhorst’s participation in the Rural Health Policy Institute underscores HGH’s commitment to advocating for policies and initiatives that support rural hospitals and healthcare providers. By collaborating with policymakers, industry experts, and fellow advocates, HGH aims to address the systemic issues facing rural healthcare, ensuring that residents in rural communities have access to quality care close to home.

Dunckhorst’s engagement at the Rural Health Policy Institute demonstrates HGH’s dedication to addressing the unique challenges confronting rural healthcare in Nevada. By actively advocating for solutions to workforce shortages, funding constraints, and regulatory burdens, HGH strives to safeguard the health and well-being of rural residents while fostering resilient and thriving communities in our home state.