Welcome to the 25th Annual West Virginia Rural Health Conference.

While there have been changes over the past 25 years, there has been one constant – your dedication and commitment to the communities who depend on your care and assistance.

At one time you stood ready to care for the rural population only in their time of need. Now you are proactive, finding ways to unite people and communities, and advancing and supporting a healthy, quality life for everyone.

Caring for those in rural areas requires us to find ways to work together.

You have moved from caring for just physical needs to also highlighting mental, social and overall wellness.

You are transitioning to the difficult task of managing and improving the health of a rural population.

Access to health care in rural areas has always been difficult. The choice is to either have people travel for health care or bring health care to people. As rural providers, our role is to provide local access – bringing as much quality health care to rural areas as possible.

We either move forward or fall backward. We can never stand still.

Caring for those in rural areas requires us to find ways to work together, to build on our strengths and to be creative in providing more with less.

We either move forward or fall backward. We can never stand still.

With all that has happened, we have stepped forward to continually improve health care access for the rural population.

Your dedication over the past 25 years is a milestone. We are excited for you to join your friends at the West Virginia Rural Health Conference to celebrate the past, but more importantly, prepare for the future.

Thank you for all you do. And welcome!

Mark Doak is the former President and CEO of the Davis Health System, and the Chair of the 25th Annual West Virginia Rural Health Conference.