SEPTEMBER 20, 2006

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OSU’s impact on rural health examined

The OSU Center for Rural Health at OSU Center for Health Sciences brought together more than 50 community leaders, health care providers and legislators from across the state for a first-hand look at OSU’s existing and future impact on rural health care in Oklahoma.

The event marked the first official meeting of the Rural Health Advisory Council, created by OSU Center for Rural Health to involve and solicit feedback from stakeholders who can influence the future of health care in rural Oklahoma.

“The OSU Center for Rural Health with support and input from the Rural Health Advisory Council wants to make improving the health care picture in rural Oklahoma a top priority,” Val Schott, M.P.H., director of the State Office of Rural Health, said.

Schott said Oklahoma now ranks 44th in overall health in the nation. More than 26 percent of the state’s population smokes and nearly 25 percent of the population is considered obese, a 113 percent increase since 1990. The state is ranked last—50th among all states—in the number of deaths due to cardiovascular disease. In addition, 20 percent of Oklahomans do not have health insurance.

William Pettit, D.O., assistant dean for rural health at the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine, said a more focused, coordinated effort to positively impact health care in rural Oklahoma will result from the advisory council’s creation.

“The Rural Health Advisory Council is a diverse group of individuals who are committed to affecting positive change in the quality and accessibility of health care in rural Oklahoma,” Dr. Pettit said.

The rural health center plans a “State of the State’s Rural Health” report for release in January 2007.

OSU Center for Health Sciences in Tulsa offers programs in osteopathic medicine, biomedical sciences and forensic sciences, with an emphasis on serving rural and under-served Oklahoma. The OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine has been nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top medical schools in the nation for the past six years.

Contact: Marla Schaefer, 918.561.5811