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CMH observes National Rural Health Day

Hospital news | Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Contact: Sarah Bello

Annual celebration recognizes the "Power of Rural"

Columbia Memorial Hospital (CMH) is honored to observe National Rural Health Day (NRHD) this Thursday, November 17. The day promotes the “Power of Rural,” which brings much-needed attention to the ongoing efforts to communicate, educate, collaborate and innovate to improve the health of an estimated 57 million rural Americans.

CMH and its providers are honored to play a key role in keeping members of the local community healthy.

“Each year, in the week before Thanksgiving, we recognize the ‘Power of Rural’ and all that rural health care organizations do for patients, caregivers, visitors and beyond,” says Erik Thorsen, CEO. “It’s appropriate that it falls before Thanksgiving as we are reminded of the importance of our work and how grateful we are to be a part of this place and community.”

CMH employs over 700 caregivers throughout the hospital and 15+ CMH-OHSU Health Medical Group and CMH Urgent Care clinics. More than 35,000 patients access services annually.

While remaining independent, CMH has had a longtime relationship with Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. In 2021, a new collaboration began, resulting in the CMH-OHSU Health Medical Group clinics and CMH-OHSU Health-employed providers. The relationship bolsters the coastal communities around Astoria, allowing more Oregonians to access services within their community, contributing to improved health outcomes and offering rural health providers the opportunity to train in a community hospital environment.

NRHD showcases the efforts of rural health care providers, State Offices of Rural Health and other rural stakeholders to address the unique health care challenges that rural citizens face today and into the future. Several CMH providers shared their thoughts about why they choose to work in a rural area (see more on CMH's social media pages):

  • “Nothing is more personally or professionally rewarding than having been able to move back home to take care and improve the lives of the people of my hometown,” says Rachel Van Dusen, MD, surgeon in the CMH-OHSU Health General Surgery Clinic. “I feel so lucky to have been given the opportunity to deliver high quality health care to the area I love and generations of people who raised me. There isn’t a group of people or community I care more about.”
  • “Rural communities comprise a large portion of our population and are in most cases underserved,” says Mary Rizzo, FNP-BC, Urgent Care nurse practitioner. “I want to help alleviate the shortage.”
  • “I love practicing medicine in a rural community,” says Dr. Jenny Brown, physician at the CMH-OHSU Health Primary Care Clinic – Warrenton. “I get the privilege of really getting to know my patients, their families and the community in which they have chosen to live. You get to know your resources and the surrounding medical community and can really be a part of a network that can make the community a better place to live."
  • “I value creating positive changes in the lives of my neighbors,” says Terry Hollowell, FNP-C, Urgent Care nurse practitioner and medical director. “There’s an inherent satisfaction that comes from performing a good service to those that you might meet at the next holiday gathering or run across at the grocery store.”
  • “In addition to managing trauma and medical situations that come to the Emergency Department, our team — doctors, nurses and social workers, to name just a few — helps manage behavioral health crises on a daily basis,” says Allison Whisenhunt, director of Behavioral Health and Care Management. “This includes mental health, as well as substance use disorders, and it is such an integral part of supporting the health of our rural community.”

“To all who trust CMH with their health care, thank you,” Thorsen says. “We look forward to continuing to serve you in 2023.”

For additional information about National Rural Health Day, visit