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Celebrating the 'Power of Rural' with Aspirus Health on National Rural Health Day


Chris Harff, Aspirus UP Regional President

Rural hospitals play an indispensable role in the country's health care framework, a vital lifeline for approximately one-fifth of the population, particularly for those with limited healthcare alternatives.

National Rural Health Day is Thursday, November 16. It celebrates the “Power of Rural” by honoring the selfless, community-minded spirit that prevails in rural America.

Aspirus takes pride in being one of the country’s top rural health care providers with 17 hospitals and 75 clinics throughout Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

“What sets Aspirus apart is that we have a centralized quality department where we collaborate with all our other rural facilities, determine metrics, and work together to implement best practices,” says Chris Harff, Aspirus UP Regional President.

 Providing rural health care isn’t easy. Recent research identified that over 600 rural hospitals in the U.S. are at risk of closure due to financial pressures. However, Aspirus has experienced significant growth in recent years with the purchase of seven Wisconsin hospitals and 21 clinics from Ascension Health in 2021 and more recently announcing the signing of a definitive agreement with St. Luke’s, based in Duluth, Minnesota.

 “Our merger with St. Luke’s is a merger with a facility that is really similar to Aspirus,” says Harff. “We’re excited, especially in the UP because we’re hoping with their specialists and our hub and spoke models, we’ll be able to keep even more care in our local facilities.”

Even with success and growth, challenges such as labor shortages still exist in the health care industry. This requires rural health providers to be proactive in addressing these needs. 

“One of the things that Aspirus does well is that we collaborate with our communities and our education institutions all over our coverage areas,” says Harff. “We have students in our facilities almost every day, which gives us the opportunity to impress upon them who we are and how we’re here to care for our communities.”

Moving forward, there will continue to be challenges in providing rural health care. However, Aspirus is committed to being an industry leader and working hard to provide the best care possible in the areas they serve.



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