Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Rural Life: Hospitals

In my new position as economic development director, I've realized that there are certain things necessary to make anywhere, but especially a rural community, a good place to live. I haven't just realized them, but as I'm thinking of ways to motivate and inspire people to move to my small town they've come to the front of my mind. One of the most important factors for whether or not you want to live somewhere is do they have a hospital? Or any type of healthcare for that matter.

I actually wanted to write this post about 6 months ago. I was first really struck by the importance of having a hospital in a rural community when my family helped an elderly couple with their medical situation. During church an elderly gentleman started getting weak and wasn't able to stand or walk on his own very well. Immediately after church his wife was trying to help him get out of church, down the steps and to the car, but his legs were so weak it was difficult. My family got pulled in to the situation, not only because it is a small town and that's what you do, but because my brother was one of the few people in church strong enough to help support and basically carry this man to his car. As soon as we got him there, his wife knew something was wrong and he needed to get to the hospital ASAP! Thankfully, my hometown has a hospital and a wonderful one at that. We were able to get him in the ER and have him checked out. It took a couple of hours for tests to be run, but when all was said and done he got seen quicker than he would've in a city hospital. On top of that, they were able to call the pharmacist who was willing to quickly run down to the pharmacy to fill a prescription. At 9 o'clock at night. How cool is that?!

If that facility wasn't available, this couple would've had to drive 30 minutes to the nearest hospital where I'm sure their prescription would've had to wait till the next day. Amazing. My favorite part of this story was that after we helped this elderly couple back home they offered us food and chatted with us about life. This was the first time I'd ever met them.

In my current location, they have a very modern hospital with some of the latest medical technology. Not only does this town have a hospital and nursing home, they have a dentist and pharmacy. There are also two optometrists that visit twice a week. For those who prefer alternate forms of medicine, we also have a very good chiropractor (I went to him last week). Citizens can have most of their health care needs taken care of right at home. They are also working on a project to make sure their airport is up to code so the flight for life planes can easily access our little town.

Hospitals are in the top three things that are necessary if a rural community is to survive. Thankfully we have individuals such as my former boss, Senator Jerry Moran, standing up and promoting rural health care to insure its future. That is one of many reasons I admire him. Incentives for medical students to return to and serve underserved areas such as rural communities will also help insure the future of rural health care. Progressive actions such as hospital remodeling, as our population ages will continue to help the survival of rural community hospitals. We need to not only make sure that healthcare is available for the aging population but also our younger generations as well.

Words of Wisdom:"I will work to make sure that Kansans have access to health care networks within their own communities because this care is essential to the prosperity and survival of the towns we call home." Senator Jerry Moran 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

My New Life

Wow I can't believe it's been almost a month since I've blogged. I've started my new life in rural America and have yet to set up internet. That also means I have yet to have cable and have been biding my time watching DVDs, taking walks, and playing Angry Birds on my iPhone. I've thought about blogging from my iPhone but quickly realized I don't have the patience for that. So right now, I'm at work, on a Saturday and decided to take a little break and blog.

I'm grateful to be back in Western Kansas. I love it here, the people are kind, the weather doesn't make me feel like I'm suffocating (reference to the humidity of Eastern Kansas and DC)...except when the dust gets to blowing, and I'm blessed to have a job doing what I love. I find joy in gardening and was afraid I was going to lose the one thing making me happy here when a hailstorm rolled through town last night. But no worries all the plants survived and were probably relieved at the drink of rain that followed the hail. I absolutely love driving down the street and getting waves from everyone I pass. That just doesn't happen anywhere else and it always makes me smile.

There are downsides to being here and it's becoming harder to smile and tell the truth when people ask me how I'm getting along and how I like it here. I have no friends, not for a lack of trying, but I just think I don't know how to make friends. I've met so many people who are very kind, but sometimes my head spins trying to remember names and faces, but there's nothing like meeting someone who can be a real friend. I live alone, which I enjoy...most of the time. Given I haven't found a friend, it's hard to find a roommate who I know I would get along with. I guess I'm a picky person. At work, I feel as though I'm constantly being compared to the former director and I recognize I have big shoes to fill and I will. However, people need to realize I'm not her and the circumstances are completely different given sources of funding are hard to find and I'm allowed an adjustment period to learn about the community. Come Friday every week, I'm literally on the verge of tears from stress and defeat. I truly believe this community, though small, has the potential to be great. I get a sense of negativity from some people and I want to work to stop that and spread a positive outlook but negativity really is a disease and it takes more than one person to combat it.

If I get to blog more regularly, I want to talk about the assets in this community and hopefully I'll start seeing changes in attitudes. This community really does have a lot to offer. There's great shopping and friendly people to help you out. There is a rich history, much of which can be explored in the Museum of the Great Plains. The health care system and education system are both top notch. And truly most of the people are complete gems, very welcoming and glad to have me in their community. Hopefully I will be able to find those people who will be on my team and help me change this town.

Sorry there aren't any pictures...since I'm on my work computer I don't have access to any. This really is a good place to be, I just need to find a friend here, because many of friends can't relate to what I'm experiencing or are too busy living their own lives to care it seems.

Words of Wisdom: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead