rural health

When Sarah Scantling went into labor this summer, she had to drive 30 miles and across state lines.

Three years earlier, the only maternity ward where she lives in Pemiscot County, Missouri closed down. Scantling had to choose between a handful of other hospitals in the region between 20 and 70 miles away. She chose to give birth in the hospital in Dyersburg, Tennessee.

U.S. Marine Corps / Wikimedia Commons

Opiates continue to ravage rural communities in Oklahoma, and the question of how to combat the problem is expected to dominate the 2018 legislative session.

As Oklahoma Watch reports, the state is doing some things right, but in other areas the response to the drug epidemic has lagged behind other states. Overdoses from methamphetamine and heroin have increased in recent years. In fact, last year, a record 899 Oklahomans died from drug overdoses.

Nellis Air Force Base

Almost 50 million rural Americans lack access to sufficient dental care.

As Mother Jones reports, in large swaths of the country it can be difficult to make a dental appointment even if you have private insurance. And for Americans who rely on Medicaid, it can be practically impossible to find dental care in small towns. Fewer than half of the dentists in the United States accept Medicaid, and many of those who do are in the cities.

Pixabay

In the last three years, 3,000 Oklahomans have lost their lives due to the opioid crisis.

Now, as the Enid News And Eagle reports, state Attorney General Mike Hunter is doing his best to rein in the scourge of opioids.

But he’s got an uphill battle.

In 2014, almost 10 million prescriptions for opioids were filled statewide - the equivalent of giving everyone in the state 50 pills.

Public Domain

Washita county, in western Oklahoma, has given up on the Women, Infant, and Children program, The Oklahoman reports.

The WIC program provides nutrition services to young children and pregnant women. The announcement came from the Cordell Memorial Hospital, who administers the program. Officials said they can no longer afford to provide the nutrition for free to local mothers and children.

Nick Youngson / Creative Commons

Oklahoma will soon announce a new health care initiative aimed at reducing premiums and expanding coverage for everyday Oklahomans.

As Oklahoma Watch reports, the Affordable Care Act has struggled recently. Blue Cross Blue Shield is the only remaining insurer on the state exchange.

Twenty-four-year-old Kalee Woody says that when she was growing up in Bronaugh, Missouri, she saw the small town slowly fading. Businesses closed, growth stagnated and residents had to drive to other places to see a doctor.

It is a town that, like many towns in rural areas of Missouri and other Midwest and Great Plains states, is recognized by the federal government as having a shortage of healthcare providers.

In voting for a $1.2 billion tax increase to bolster the budget for the next two years, the Kansas Legislature avoided a projected $900 budget hole and began restoring past cuts to the mental health system.

When evening falls, Brian Hunt makes his way to a comfortable chair in a sun room on the south side of his house near La Cygne, Kansas. But he’s not settling in to relax. He’s going to work.

Dale Denwalt / The Journal-Record

Despite a years-long crisis that has led to dozens of rural hospital closures across the U.S., there are signs of life for at least one facility in Western Oklahoma.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, after the reforms of the Affordable Care Act, Colorado’s uninsured rate dropped from 14.3 percent in 2013 to 6.7 percent in 2015 and about 500,000 people in the state gained health insurance coverage and about 400,000 people got covered through expanded eligibility of Medicaid.

NewsOK.com

According to a new study, life expectancies in some parts of Oklahoma are growing at a more rapid pace than in others.

NewsOK reports that the Oklahoma Panhandle has exhibited a marked increase in life expectancy since 1980, showing a gain of between four and five percent, one of the strongest surges in the state.

RJ Sangosti / The Denver Post

Colorado Republicans have now pulled the plug on a bill that sought to repeal the state’s health care exchange, reports The Denver Post.

Meanwhile, rural hospitals received a bit of good news. The Colorado Legislature has passed a bill preventing $528 million in cuts to hospital funding. Some conservative lawmakers opposed the bill, as they say it will only lead to more spending and debt. Instead, they said the measure should have gone to the voters.

AgWeek

In an opinion piece this week, the editorial board of the weekly agricultural newspaper AgWeek insisted that rural health care has reached a dire state, and must be addressed now.

When it comes to heath care, writes AgWeek, “the worry is greater today than it's ever been.” Hospitals have been closing across rural America at a troubling pace. Many agriculturalists have taken jobs away from the farm, just so they can have health care.

Creative Commons

In the past, HPPR has reported on the fact that rural America has been struggling to find enough doctors to serve its populace.

healthline

Rural living has long been thought to be healthy for the body and the soul. But a new article in Healthline disputes this notion, with an essay provocatively entitled, “If You Want to Die Young, Move to Rural America.”

The truth is, when it comes to the five leading causes of death, rural dwellers lag behind inhabitants of America’s cities.

Dodge City Medical Center (DCMC ) will join clinics in Garden City and Ulysses as a partner of Colorado-based Centura Health.

Flap / Flickr Creative Commons

As HPPR has reported in the past, rural hospitals in the U.S. have been struggling a great deal in recent years. Many of them have closed.

This phenomenon is part of a larger trend of younger people moving to the cities and leaving rural areas with little help.

Rural hospitals have been hit hardest in states that refused to expand Medicaid or accept federal funding. These states include Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

Khampha Bouaphanh / Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Rural Texas residents have struggled to find adequate healthcare for a long time. In the last three years alone, fifteen rural hospitals have closed in Texas.

In fact, the American College of Emergency Physicians has given the Lone Star State an F when it comes to providing emergency care access to small town residents.

Creative Commons

A task force formed to address rural health care problems recently determined that keys to Kansas’ future in that arena include expanding telemedicine and addressing workforce shortages.

www.pewtrusts.org

How healthy are people on the High Plains? According to a new study from the Pew Charitable Trusts, only two of the five states in the HPPR listening area rank among the top half of states when it comes to health.

ivn.us

Rural Americans continue to struggle to find adequate mental health care. That’s despite the fact that the Affordable Care Act guaranteed that mental and behavioral health treatment would be covered by all health insurance policies sold on the federal health exchange.

However, as IVN reports, psychological coverage does little good if you live in an area where no services are available.

Gallup/CDC / WaPo/Wonkblog

Almost half of overweight Americans don’t know they’re overweight, reports The Washington Post.

Rachel Aston / Las Vegas Review Journal

Over the past six years, 76 rural hospitals have closed in America. That’s one and a half per state. That’s left many rural residents without recourse if they’re injured or become seriously ill.

The Washington Post

Middle-aged white women—especially in rural areas—continue to die at a much faster rate than many other groups.

Rural Blog

More than 80 percent of rural counties without a city of 10,000 or more people—lack psychiatrists, according to a new study.

These counties are called “non-core counties,” and they are in dire need of mental health care. Non-core counties average less than four psychiatrists for every 100,000 people. Compare that with more 17 psychiatrists per 100,000 in metropolitan areas.

Rural Blog

When it comes to mental health and veterans, rural soldiers are less likely to receive help than their urban counterparts, reports The Rural Blog.

Clifton Adcock / Oklahoma Watch

In many rural areas, maintaining mental health can sometimes come down to finding a ride.

As Oklahoma Watch reports, Transportation is often a barrier for rural dwellers seeking mental health or substance abuse treatment.

Kansas Hospital Association

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s tax plan for hospitals has come under fire from a prominent member of the Kansas health community.

Rural Blog

Nearly half of the counties in the United States lack an obstetrician or gynecologist, reports The Rural Blog. Most of these counties are rural.

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