2020 Rural Health Report (Foundation)



A 10-Year Commitment to Rural Health The Medica Foundation has always recognized the importance of supporting the unique needs of individual communities, and has a long history of funding health programs in rural areas. The recession in 2008 was devastating to the country, permanently altering the economic geography and crippling rural communities. Challenges, such as food insecurity, homelessness, addiction and suicide became more prominent in rural areas. Our response to the recession was to increase our support by establishing a new funding area focused solely on rural communities. Overall, more than $5.5 million has been awarded to organizations supporting the health needs in rural areas across our footprint.


The Medica Foundation is proudly dedicated to supporting rural health initiatives. We will continue to listen to community leaders as they address local health challenges and partner with them to be part of the solution to improve the health of those most in need.

Making A Difference In Rural Communities Rural Health Grants: $5.5 Million Total






WISCONSIN $168,000




IOWA $7,500

NEBRASKA $171,000


Jordon Johnson, Executive Director of Life House (Duluth, MN) “In Duluth, one of our biggest challenges is connecting young people experiencing homelessness to primary care physicians prior to going to the emergency room for non-emergent care. When someone is unsure where they will be staying from one night to the next, making an appointment to see a doctor is not a priority, particularly for mental health concerns. Most of our young people are low income and do not have consistent cell phone service or access to the internet. Transportation can also be a struggle. Medica Foundation funding has allowed us to expand our mental health and wellness teams, allowing us to provide critical services for struggling youth in our area. We are working diligently to connect young people to health care providers and are exploring options available to reduce barriers to appropriate health services. Our partnership with the Medica Foundation is critical to our work.” Charlie Mandile, Executive Director of HealthFinders Collaborative (Northfield, MN) “Rice County is home to some of the most extreme health disparities and inequities in the state. With twice the state average of Latino immigrants and one of the largest populations of Somali refugees outside the Twin Cities metropolitan area, there are unique challenges and opportunities in serving these groups. Recent community health assessments have identified chronic disease, mental health and access to care as top priorities. Our strong partnership with the Medica Foundation entrusts us, the local agency, with longstanding relationships in the community, to identify both needs and opportunities to address local health and wellness care. Support for our programs enables us to continue innovating and developing our unique model of care that incorporates not just clinical care, but community-based wellness support. As a result of the Medica Foundation taking a chance on us, we now have Rice county’s only bilingual mental health therapist, and a robust mental wellness program.”

Maren Gemar, Executive Director of Healthcare Equipment Recycling Organization (HERO) (Fargo, ND)

“With North Dakota having fewer larger cities than most states, individuals often must drive over 100 miles to access medical products such as wheel chairs, walkers and bathroom safety items. With the funding we have received from the Medica Foundation over the past 10 years, hundreds of additional individuals in rural communities have received important medical equipment for their care. In 2019, we served over 5,500 individuals across North Dakota, which includes several rural communities. Without the support of the Medica Foundation, we would have turned away individuals in need or limited the amount of items they could have received on a monthly basis.”

JoAnn Birkholz, Executive Director of the Medica Foundation “Supporting rural communities across our footprint is a priority for the Medica Foundation. Our role is to listen, understand and respond to the needs of communities through investments that improve access to care and allow people to thrive. By supporting community-led health initiatives through our grantmaking, we are empowering communities to lead the way in providing solutions and reducing disparities for the people they support. We are excited that our foundation work has expanded into new states and look forward to increasing our support for rural communities across Medica’s service area. We continue to build relationships and listen to community leaders to deepen our understanding of local health needs.”

Visit us on the web at MedicaFoundation.org .

© 2020 Medica Foundation. Medica ® is a registered service mark of Medica Health Plans. “Medica” refers to the family of health services companies that includes Medica Health Plans, Medica Community Health Plan, Medica Insurance Company, Medica Self-Insured, MMSI, Inc. d/b/a Medica Health Plan Solutions, Medica Health Management, LLC and the Medica Foundation.


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