Health Care Deserts: Nearly 80 Percent Of Rural U.S. Designated As ‘Medically Underserved’
To report on the growing problem, The Washington Post spotlights communities in Texas -- where 159 of the state’s 254 counties have no general surgeons, 121 have no medical specialists, and 35 have no doctors at all. More news on rural health conditions comes out of Minnesota and Oklahoma.
The Washington Post:
‘Out Here, It’s Just Me’: In The Medical Desert Of Rural America, One Doctor For 11,000 Square Miles
In the medical desert that has become rural America, nothing is more basic or more essential than access to doctors, but they are increasingly difficult to find. The federal government now designates nearly 80 percent of rural America as “medically underserved.” It is home to 20 percent of the U.S. population but fewer than 10 percent of its doctors, and that ratio is worsening each year because of what health experts refer to as “the gray wave.” Rural doctors are three years older than urban doctors on average, with half over 50 and more than a quarter beyond 60. Health officials predict the number of rural doctors will decline by 23 percent over the next decade as the number of urban doctors remains flat. (Saslow, 9/28)
Independent Rural Hospital Struggles On — Like Many
Not since 2006 has Bigfork Valley Hospital taken in more money than it spent providing care. Despite the nonstop financial woes, it continues on and even makes expensive improvements. The hospital recently built a memory care wing called Aspen Circle. (Zdechlik, 9/30)
Kaiser Health News:
Listen: Five Oklahoma Hospitals Collapsed – What Happened?
KHN Midwest correspondent Lauren Weber joined StateImpact Oklahoma reporter Jackie Fortiér to discuss why a series of rural hospitals collapsed, leaving hundreds of residents without jobs and their communities without lifesaving emergency medical care. (9/27)