Rural Healthcare


In 2009, the Helmsley Charitable Trust created its Rural Healthcare Program to improve access to and quality of care in the upper Midwest. Working closely with our nonprofit implementing partners, the program invests in projects that improve healthcare delivery and strengthen the healthcare workforce.  

COVID-19 Update: June 8, 2020

In late March as COVID-19 began to sweep across the U.S., our Rural Healthcare Program went into emergency response mode with an eye on how we could make a difference now that would yield impact even after the crisis abates. To date, we’ve focused on two pathways.

First, with many intensive care units needing to recruit non-ICU personnel in their all-hands-on-deck response – not all of whom have recent experience using oxygenation and ventilation– training became an urgent need. Longtime grantee, the American Heart Association, created an online hub with refresher content, which has been viewed over 140,000 times by frontline healthcare workers to date - improving their confidence and ability to provide the best possible care and outcomes. These personnel will carry this knowledge with them for emergency situations that arise long after COVID.

Second, as early as March evidence suggested that 20% of COVID-19 patients experience cardiac events during their COVID-19 treatment and after surviving the virus. This is why, across several states that are the focus of our program’s grantmaking, we supported the purchase of 367 LUCAS mechanical CPR devices to enable providers to respond to cardiac events while minimizing their risk of infection, or compromising their personal protective equipment. In April, we focused on enabling rural hospitals to procure these devices, and by May 11, all of them were in place. This nearly $5 million effort is providing invaluable support post-crisis, too, as the LUCAS devices continue to enhance care for cardiac patients while some states move past their peaks in infection rates.


Helmsley’s Rural Healthcare Program funds innovative projects that use information technologies to connect rural populations to specialty medical care, bring the latest medical therapies to patients in remote areas, provide state-of-the-art training for rural hospitals and EMS personnel, and foster incentives for healthcare personnel to train and serve in rural areas.  The program awards grants in the upper Midwest states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Minnesota, Iowa, and Montana.


Low average incomes, geographic isolation, and a severe shortage of qualified healthcare providers create challenges in delivering quality healthcare in rural America.  The Rural Healthcare Program aims to meet the needs of rural Americans in the upper Midwest by funding programs that provide healthcare delivery in specific remote and underserved areas. Read more.


Part of ensuring rural America has access to quality, affordable healthcare is to support the industry’s workforce. Many rural communities have health professional shortages. The Rural Healthcare Program seeks to alleviate these shortages by retaining the current workforce, providing them the support they need and recruiting additional quality healthcare professionals to rural communities. Read more.


The Rural Healthcare Program funds innovative projects, research, and health policy education activities to leverage creative yet practical ideas against known challenges in rural healthcare.  We look to assess and promote novel projects that can be scaled to advance healthcare delivery and workforce preparation and development throughout the region, with the ultimate goal of improving health outcomes. Read more