North Carolina Office of Rural Health Celebrates 45 Years of Service Bringing Health Care to Underserved Communities


The North Carolina Office of Rural Health, the oldest in the United States, today celebrates 45 years of service improving access to health care for the people of North Carolina. In honor of the milestone, Governor Roy Cooper proclaimed Nov. 15 Rural Health Day in the state.

“North Carolinians deserve access to affordable, high-quality health care no matter where they live in our state,” said Governor Cooper. “I’m grateful for the work done by the Office of Rural Health, along with rural health care providers and other stakeholders, to help deliver needed care for our rural and underserved communities. We can help all North Carolina communities—rural and urban—even more by working to close the coverage gap and increase access to affordable health insurance.”

Governor Cooper is leading the charge to close the health care coverage gap by expanding access to Medicaid to cover over 500,000 North Carolinians, bring more than $4 billion into our economy, create thousands of health care jobs, help control private insurance premiums, and help combat the opioid epidemic plaguing our communities. 

The Office of Rural Health is instrumental in recruiting and placing health care professionals in areas where they are most needed, and in developing community-owned rural health centers. The Office works to improve access, quality and cost-effectiveness of health care.

“We strive to honor the dedication and community-minded spirit of North Carolinians who live in rural communities by continuing to build partnerships that improve their health and welfare,” said Maggie Sauer, Director of the Office of Rural Health. “We must work to keep our rural hospitals and health care facilities open, properly staffed and providing high quality care their patients depend on.”

The Office of Rural Health provides grant funds to health safety net organizations including free clinics, federally qualified health centers, health departments, school-based health centers, hospitals and other organizations across the state.

In the last state fiscal year, the Office awarded grants totaling $28.8 million from state, federal and philanthropic sources to expand access to high quality health care. While the Office does not provide direct care, the programs support numerous health care safety net organizations throughout North Carolina.

Rural Health Day is celebrated nationwide on the third Thursday of November. The day serves as an opportunity to “Celebrate the Power of Rural” by honoring the selfless, community-minded spirit that prevails in rural communities across North Carolina, and the U.S.

For more information about the N.C. office of Rural Health, visit

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