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Maryland's 2023 Rural Community Star

The Maryland State Office of Rural Health (SORH), National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) and other state/national rural stakeholders “Celebrate the Power of Rural” during annual National Rural Health Day on Thursday, November 16, 2023​.

Maryland’s rural communities are wonderful places to live, work, and visit. They are also communities where healthcare providers have the opportunity to provide innovative, affordable, and holistic primary care – a model for the rest of the country to follow as America transitions to a population, wellness-based system of health care. These are also communities where neighbors know each other, listen to each other, respect reach other, and work together to benefit the greater good.

As part of this annual celebration of the #powerofrural, the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health hosts the national Community Star program. This recognition “honors remarkable individuals and organizations going above and beyond for rural health. They exemplify the true spirit of collaboration, turning challenges into opportunities, ensuring access to quality care, and fostering a sense of unity and support within our rural communities.”

Without pause, Maryland is able to nominate the very best Stars each year. This year is no different! Please join the Maryland State Office of Rural Health in congratulating Maryland’s 2023 Community Star:

Adelaide “Addie” Eckardt, MS, PMHCNS-BC, DON

Director of Nursing Eastern Shore Hospital Center Cambridge, Maryland

Maryland’s 2023 Community Star was selected based on her dedication and activity on behalf of rural Maryland over the past year (and decades!). She has demonstrated her support for rural health in Maryland in person and virtually at every turn. Throughout her tenure as a Maryland State Delegate and Senator, “Addie” kept a keen eye and busy legislative hands involved in rural health and nursing. Despite busy schedules and state-level contributions, she served as a long-time regional Area Health Education Board member. During the past year, she transitioned from a 28-year legislative career into public health service as a behavioral health nursing director in rural Maryland. Addie’s presence as a stalwart supporter and connector in rural Maryland is well deserving of recognition.

Describe your role within your organization and the nature of your work in rural health:

I am the Director of Nursing in an 82-bed State Psychiatric Forensic Inpatient Facility in Rural Maryland. I have a long-standing history of working in this facility and also serving 28 years in the Maryland General Assembly advocating for services and funding for individuals and families struggling with severe mental illness and substance use and abuse.

How do you and/or your organization make a difference in rural health and positively impact the community?

Through the years, I have promoted and advocated for services and funding for mental illness/brain disease. I have introduced and passed many bills to assist with the delivery system in Maryland. As a retired Senator, I now work in the hospital setting, experiencing the system changes from legislation I have worked on and passed.

Describe a specific project and its successful outcomes or a time when collaboration or innovation was crucial to your success:

Passing legislation for those incarcerated for crimes committed but need inpatient evaluation and treatment to determine competency to stand trial and get on with their lives.

Describe any challenges your organization has encountered and how you overcame them:

Covid has severely impacted the nursing workforce. Hiring skilled licensed and unlicensed nursing staff has been challenging, and expensive travelers have been utilized to fill the void. I plan to build a workplace in which staff want to work and advance their nursing careers. We will grow our own, so to speak.

What does the “Power of Rural” mean to you?

Recognizing the need for health care for everyone that is affordable, accessible, and of quality.

Have you accessed, benefited from, or worked directly with your State Office of Rural Health?

The Office of Rural Health has been most helpful by bringing resources to the table to facilitate the rural delivery system and building the workforce. They work through various population groups and organizations like the Area Health Education Centers and the Maryland Community Health Resources Commission. Facilitating funding for workforce needs is an example of their commitment to rural needs, and their advocacy at the Federal level is critical.

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