This week is Rural Health Week in Alberta, a time when the availability of healthcare in small towns, and the people who facilitate it, are showcased.

It's always a highlight for the Sheep River Health Trust (SRHT), an organization dedicated to funding and supporting those very services.

Executive director Andrea Mitchell says providing services like in-house palliative care, pre and post-natal care, and urgent care in smaller communities can completely transform a patient's experience, saving them from lengthy trips and the headaches that come with them.

"Maybe you're 12 weeks pregnant and can't get a scan in town, you have to wait to see a doctor, you're paying for time off work, paying for parking and all the rest, then you have a doctor in the city you have to follow up with. These are all huge impacts."

It goes beyond in-hospital care, with the SRHT funding programs like the Longview Seniors Bus, Rising Sun Long Term Care's patio refurbishing, and Adult Day Support Program.

"I think we all think of healthcare as when you walk through a hospital, but there's so much preventative health we want to focus on. THat's why we're here at the Trust, to make sure those programs that are important in our communities get funding and can continue on."

The week is also about the people who make it possible, says Mitchell.

"We tend to look at the services and those things, but the doctors and nurses are really our families, our friends, our neighbours, THey are really consistent care, and that's what's really important in our communities."

For this year's Rural Health Week, they've teamed up with the High River District Health Care Foundation (HRDHC).

Cathy Couey with the HRDHC says proceeds from the fundraiser will directly benefit local health heroes.

"We decided to take it one step farther and we've launched the Rural Health matters 50/50 raffle. All the proceeds from that raffle will go to support staff initiatives, whether that be scholarship programs or recognition and retention programs."

The total is coming close to $4000, and the 50/50 ends this Friday, June 3.