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 

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