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State Office of Rural Health (SORH)
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State Office of Rural Health (SORH)
This page provides an overview of the State Office of Rural Health (SORH).

The State Office of Rural Health (SORH) encompasses programs that serve to strengthen health care delivery systems and improve health care access in rural areas of Ohio.  These programs include the the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Program (Flex), and the Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program (SHIP).  The links located to the left will provide you with additional information on these programs.

The goal of the Ohio State Office of Rural Health (SORH) is to help strengthen rural health care delivery systems by creating a focal point for coordinating rural health initiatives statewide. Since its inception in 1991, the Ohio SORH has worked to improve rural health care delivery systems through programs and activities related to its five essential functions.  


The five essential functions of the SORH are to serve rural populations in Ohio by:

  • Collecting and disseminating rural health information 
  • Coordinating resources and activities statewide
  • Providing technical assistance to meet rural community health needs
  • Encouraging recruitment and retention of health professionals in rural areas
  • Strengthening state and federal partnerships

The SORH has leveraged several significant partnerships locally, statewide and nationally in its efforts to improve rural health care delivery systems.  SORH staff plan and implement various workshops, conferences and meetings, and also work to provide resources and technical assistance to rural communities working to enhance existing systems of care.  Speaker slides from various activities are included below as a resource. Please note that materials do not necessarily reflect the views of ODH.

What is Rural?

Depending upon the program and agency, various definitions of rural exist. For grant programs from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP), all counties that are not part of a Metropolitan Area are considered rural by definition. In Metropolitan counties, Rural-Urban Commuting Area (RUCA) Codes define the rural areas eligible for the various FORHP grant programs. For grant programs from the Centers for Medcare & Medicaid Services (CMS) rural areas are located outside of a U.S. Census Bureau Urbanized Area. The Census Burea defines and Urbanized Area as an urban area of 50,000 or more people. 

The "Am I Rural?" tool from the Rural Health Information Hub can be used to determine whether your specific location is considered rural based on various definitions.

The SORH does not in any way limit our technical assistance or services to just those counties or communities that meet the FORHP’s definition of rural.

Activities and Events

  • Rural Health Conference –  The SORH hosts an annual Ohio Rural Health Conference and semi-annual Rural hospital Flexibility Program (FLEX) meeting. Details on these meetings can be found under resources.
  • Rural Health Listserv - The SORH maintains a statewide rural health listserv to distribute a quarterly e-newsletter, described in more detail below, and other periodic e-mailed announcements regarding funding opportunities, upcoming events and other resources.  To sign-up, please send a request stating that you would like to be added to the rural health listserv to HealthPolicy@odh.ohio.gov.
  • Quarterly Newsletter - The quarterly newsletter is e-mailed to rural health stakeholders via the rural health listserv.  This newsletter contains information on state and national news, upcoming events and other opportunities related to rural health. 
  • Rural Health Day - National Rural Health Day is held each year on the third Thursday of November as a way to showcase rural America, increase awareness of rural health-related issues and highlight efforts to address the unique healthcare needs of rural communities.  State Offices of Rural Health, the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health and our partners celebrate National Rural Health Day each year.  
  • Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) - The SORH coordinates various activities to assist both existing RHCs and clinics working toward RHC certification, including the annual Statewide Rural Health Conference and educational webinars.  These activities aim to support and enhance access to care in rural Ohio.  Information is posted on this Web page and shared via the rural health listserv.. 

    A rural health clinic (RHC) is a facility that is located in a rural area designated as a shortage area (personal health services or primary medical manpower) and is neither a rehabilitation agency nor a facility primarily for care and treatment of mental diseases. A physician on the clinic’s staff must provide the RHC’s medical direction. There are other staffing requirements as pertain to physician assistants, nurse practitioners and certified nurse midwives. Rural health clinics are not licensed in Ohio. Federal standards for Medicare certification are found at 42 CFR Part 491, Subpart A. RHCs are not currently subject to an annual survey visit, but are surveyed consistent with a percentage of total state universe as set by the Medicare budget each Federal Fiscal Year.

    Please see the Governor's Certified Shortage Area for RHCs Web page for information regarding RHC development.


Mailing Address:           
Ohio Department of Health
State Office of Rural Health
Office of Health Policy and Performance Improvement
246 N. High Street, 7th Floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215 

Telephone: (614) 466-8508
E-mail: HealthPolicy@odh.ohio.gov