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Uncommon Dialogue: Improving Health and Health Care in the Rural American West

Friday, January 26, 2018 (All day)
Stanford University
Paul Brest Hall- West Room.

By invitation only.


Stanford University’s Bill Lane Center for the American West is convening a workshop to devise strategies for improving health care and wellness in the rural West.

Rural health care is deficient everywhere in the United States, nowhere more so than in the West, where considerations of distance, culture, and environment pose special challenges.  Some 51 million Americans live in rural areas; 13 million of them  in the West.  According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), rural American households have the nation’s highest rates of death, disability, and chronic disease, thanks to poorly resourced and badly fragmented rural healthcare delivery systems and a chronic lack of qualified health workers in rural areas. Because most rural residents live more than an hour away from a  Level I/II trauma center, 60 percent of all trauma deaths in the United States occur in rural areas. And more than three-quarters of the nation’s 2,070 rural counties have a shortage of health professionals.

Building on previous Eccles Family Rural West Conferences in Santa Fe, Missoula, Ogden, and elsewhere, the Bill Lane Center invites members of the Stanford community and others to join us on January 26  to address the following questions: How can we best marshal the resources of Stanford University to contribute to the improvement of  wellness and health care delivery in the rural West? And with whom should we partner in pursuit of those objectives?

We will focus on several topics: ambient environmental threats to wellness (e.g., air and water quality); chronic diseases with disproportionate instances in the rural West; problems of access and cost; staffing rural health facilities; and the urgent  challenges that face rural communities struggling to cope with opioid and methamphetamine addiction.

Some members of the Stanford community from the Schools of Engineering, Humanities and Sciences, and Medicine are already identifying opportunities for impact. For example, Stanford has rapidly developed and adopted telemedicine to alleviate the demand for access to physicians in rural areas with no proper health facilities, according to the Stanford Medicine 2017 Health Trends report.  

We seek to coordinate and amplify those efforts and make a real contribution to rural well-being. We hope you can join us. 



Friday, January 26, 2018

Paul Brest Hall

7:15–8:00 Coffee & Breakfast

Statement on the Challenges of Rural Health

Speakers: Bruce Cain & Phil Polakoff


Panel 1: Environment Determinants of Rural Health

Facilitator: David Hayes
1. Mary Prunicki
2. Chris Field
3. Craig Criddle

10:30-10:45 Break

Panel 2: Different Communities, Different Needs

Facilitator: Paul Wise
1. Maya Rossin-Slater
2. Ben Robison
3. Ann Arvin

12:15–1:00 Lunch
Secretary Lynn Gallagher of New Mexico with Hope Eccles

Panel 3: Cost, Care, and Access

Facilitator: Arnold Milstein
1. Brent James
2. Alan Glaseroff
3. Mark Duggan

2:30-2:45 Break

Roundtable: What can Stanford do?

Facilitator: Phil Polakoff
1. Kari Nadeau
2. James Hamilton
3. Lynn Hildemann


Call to Action

Speaker: Bruce Cain

4:30–5:30 Reception
Event Sponsor: 
The Bill Lane Center for the American West, Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy & Asthma Research at Stanford University School of Medicine
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