Washington State is divided by the Cascade Mountain Range. The Puget Sound area and mild coastal west half of the state contrasts with the eastern inland which is largely agricultural, and has colder winters and hotter summers. Washington is nicknamed “The Evergreen State” because of the contribution of the forest to the state’s economy and the region's ecosystems. Several large rivers run through the forests creating an abundance of energy. The Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River provides 30% of the nation’s hydroelectric power. Washington covers 66,544 square miles, with a 2014 estimated population of 7,061,530 people – 713,476 living in rural Washington (USDA-ERS). Olympia, the capital, is located in the western region of the state. The state’s largest cities are Seattle, Spokane and Tacoma. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 80.7% of the state’s population is white, 8.2% is Asian, 4.1% is Black/African American, 1.9% is American Indian and Alaska Native, and 12.2% is of Hispanic/Latino origin (U.S. Census, 2014).

Washington Rural Healthcare Facilities

Washington Rural Healthcare Facilities map

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There are 90 hospitals in Washington (Kaiser, 2014), 35 of which are located in rural areas (North Carolina Rural Health Research and Policy Analysis Center, Dec. 2008). The state has 39 hospitals identified as Critical Access Hospitals (Flex Team, 12/2015). According to the Washington State Office of Community Health Systems/Rural Health there are 119 Rural Health Clinics in Washington, and 25 Federally Qualified Health Centers provide services at 254 sites in the state (NACHC, 2013).

Selected Social Determinants of Health for Rural Washington

Most Washingtonians have some form of health insurance coverage, although 9% of its residents lack health insurance (Kaiser, 2014). According to the USDA Economic Research Service, the average per-capita income for Washingtonians in 2014 was $49,610, although rural per-capita income lagged at $38,515. The ERS reports, based on 2010-2014 ACS data, that the poverty rate in rural Washington is 17.8%, compared with 13.1% in urban areas of the state. 12.2% of the rural population has not completed high school, while 9.5% of the urban population lacks a high school diploma according to 2010-2014 ACS data reported by ERS. The unemployment rate in rural Washington is at 8.0%, while in urban Washington it is at 6.1% (USDA-ERS, 2014).

For a national comparison, please see an overview of the United States.

Data Sources
Flex Monitoring Team: Critical Access Hospital List; Kaiser Family Foundation State Health Facts; National Association of Community Health Centers: Key Health Center Data By State; U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts; USDA Economic Research Service: State Fact Sheets; Washington Office of Community and Rural Health


Washington State Office of Community and Rural Health
Helps rural and underserved communities have access to health services. Administers grant programs, finds doctors, and connects health care professionals with clinics and hospitals.
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