Kaiser Health News covers health care in the Midwest out of our bureau in St. Louis.

Millions Stuck At Home With No Plumbing, Kitchen Or Space To Stay Safe

In 470,000 American homes spread across every state, washing hands to prevent COVID-19 may not be as easy as turning on a faucet. They don’t have showers or toilets or, in some cases, even water piped into their homes. Nearly a million U.S. homes don’t have complete kitchens and millions more are overcrowded, making it much tougher for people to shelter in place and avoid infection.

Economic Blow Of The Coronavirus Hits America’s Already Stressed Farmers

At the start of the spring planting season, farmers across the U.S. heartland were already trying to recover from last year’s flooding amid worsening economic conditions when the pandemic struck. Farm bankruptcies and suicides continue to climb. A lack of mental health resources in rural America makes finding help more complicated.

In The Middle Of The Country, A Hospital And Its Community Prepare For The Surge

Because the surge of COVID-19 cases hasn’t yet hit all parts of America, some hospitals are able to learn lessons from the hot spots and prepare for the onslaught. In Wichita, Kansas, Ascension Via Christi hospitals converted a portion of a hospital cafeteria into a grocery store and offered alternative housing and child care for staff members working long hours in a stressful setting. The hospital group is also working with local aircraft manufacturers and 3D-printing hobbyists to produce face shields and other safety materials.

The Nation’s 5,000 Outpatient Surgery Centers Could Help With The COVID-19 Overflow

A coalition of anesthesiologists wants to repurpose the country’s more than 5,000 surgery centers to serve as emergency overflow amid the coronavirus pandemic. The centers have trained medical staff largely sitting idle, anesthesia machines that could be turned into ventilators, and empty medical space. But obstacles such as federal payment rules, logistics and some skepticism are getting in the way.