The Louisiana Department of Health is proud to recognize the innovation, quality of care and dedication of rural health professionals and organizations on National Rural Health Day.

National Rural Health Day falls on the third Thursday in November each year and recognizes the efforts of those serving the health needs of over 60 million people living in rural areas across the nation. Rural healthcare is important because residents living in rural communities experience greater health challenges that those who live in urban areas. Rural residents experience higher incidence of disease and disability, especially chronic diseases, increased mortality rates and lower life expectancies.

Today, LDH would like to recognize three recipients of the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health’s prestigious Community Star Award. These awardees have made extraordinary contributions to rural health in the state.

One recipient, the Bogalusa Mayor’s Wellness Council, was awarded for its tremendous efforts in bringing together a diverse group of partners to implement a coordinated strategic plan to move Bogalusa's health forward. With the help of Well-Ahead Louisiana’s healthy community coaching, the Council organized a multisector community coalition, Bogalusa Strong. Key leading organizations of Bogalusa Strong are the Bogalusa Mayor’s Office, Our Lady of Angels Hospital, the LSU AgCenter and Well-Ahead Louisiana. In less than a year, Bogalusa Strong was able to launch a citywide tobacco cessation campaign, host a healthy lunchroom workshop for Bogalusa school cafeteria staff, establish a bi-annual Mayor’s Walk and more. 

Another recipient, Dr. Roland Degeyter, was recognized for providing exceptional healthcare to patients at Franklin Foundation Hospital for 35 years. Degeyter also serves as the medical director of Franklin Nursing Home and Heart of Hospice. At Christmas, Degeyter can be found at the nursing home dressed in a Santa suit bringing joy to its residents.

The third recipient, Allen Parish Hospital, is an acute and specialty care hospital that provides premium quality healthcare services including outpatient services and diagnostic services to residents and visitors of the tri-parish area of Allen, Beauregard and Jefferson Davis parishes. Allen Parish Hospital is dedicated to the reduction of health disparities and improving health outcomes in Hospital Service District #3 through preventive and wellness services as well as primary and secondary health care services regardless of an individual's ability to pay.

LDH commends the recipients of the Community Star Award for investing in the health of rural Louisiana residents. With more than 40 parishes considered rural in the state, rural healthcare efforts are extremely important to improving health outcomes in Louisiana.

For more information on Louisiana’s 2018 Community Stars, visit