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

Friday, January 26, 2018 (All day)
West Room
Paul Brest Hall
555 Salvatierra Walk
Stanford University

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. 



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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, Bill Lane Center for the American West


Panel 1: Environmental Determinants of Rural Health

Facilitator: David Hayes, Stanford Law School and NYU State Impact Center


  1. Mary Prunicki, Stanford School of Medicine
  2. Chris Field, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment
  3. Craig Criddle, Stanford Civil and Environmental Engineering
10:30-10:45 Break

Panel 2: Different Communities, Different Needs

Facilitator: Paul Wise, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. Stanford School of Medicine


  1. Maya Rossin-Slater, Stanford School of Medicine, SIEPR
  2. Ben Robison, Stanford School of Medicine
  3. Ann Arvin, Stanford University, Stanford School of Medicine
  4. James Gibbons, Stanford Engineering
12:15–1:00 Lunch

Introduction: John Hennessy, Former President, Stanford University

Secretary Lynn Gallagher of New Mexico with Hope Eccles

Panel 3: Cost, Care, and Access

Facilitator: Arnold Milstein, Stanford School of Medicine


  1. Brent James, Stanford School of Medicine, Institute for Health Care Delivery Research
  2. Alan Glaseroff, Stanford School of Medicine
  3. Mark Duggan, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research
2:30-2:45 Break

Roundtable: What can Stanford do?

Facilitator: Phil Polakoff


  1. Kari Nadeau, Stanford School of Medicine
  2. James Hamilton, Stanford University Department of Communication
  3. Lynn Hildemann, Stanford Civil and Environmental Engineering

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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