rural health

Francisco Bonilla is a pastor in Carthage, Mo., catering to the spiritual needs of the town's growing Latinx community. But he's also a media personality, casting his voice far beyond the white-painted walls of Casa de Sanidad. Inside the church, Bonilla runs a low-power, Spanish-language radio station.

PRESTON KERES / U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Outbreaks at meat processing facilities have sickened workers and stalled production throughout the Midwest. Side Effects reporters Natalie Krebs (Iowa Public Radio) and Sebastián Martínez Valdivia (KBIA, Missouri), and Ohio Valley ReSource reporter Liam Niemeyer (WKMS, Kentucky) joined engagement specialist Brittani Howell on Facebook Live to talk about how the story has unfolded in their states. 

Spencer Pugh / Unsplash

Studies have found the rates of mental illness and suicide are higher for farmers. They work long hours, have limited social contact and are at the mercy of factors such as weather. Now the COVID-19 pandemic is creating even greater challenges to their livelihood—and mental health. 

Ferrell Hospital

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, some of the biggest outbreaks have been concentrated in urban areas, like New York City and Chicago. But rural America isn’t immune to the virus—and many areas are already dealing with a scarcity of health care.

Ferrell Hospital, in the Southern Illinois town of Eldorado, is bracing for coronavirus. Dr. Joseph Jackson, a physician at Ferrell, says the virus is sure to spread to rural areas like the ones his hospital serves.

Michael Leland / Side Effects Public Media

Many of America’s rural counties have just a handful of COVID-19 cases. And health experts say that may be giving residents a false sense of security. Now, outbreaks at food processing plants could shake that complacency.

Missouri Highlands Healthcare

If someone gets sick in a seven county swath of the Ozarks of southeastern Missouri, the closest place they can go for care is a clinic run by Missouri Highlands Health Care. Highlands operates in some of the least populated and poorest counties in the state. Now, it’s cutting back.

Natalie Krebs / Side Effects Public Media

In many states, emergency medical services are not considered essential, like fire or police. That means when you call 911, there’s no guarantee an ambulance will respond. And this is a big problem in rural areas, where volunteers are scarce.


Sam Horton/Indiana Public Broadcasting.

Farmers across the Midwest are facing tight profit margins and rising healthcare costs. And that means some hold off getting medical treatment or forgo health insurance altogether. In response, some state farm bureaus are trying to fill that gap by creating their own group health plan.

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New funding will drive a pilot project to connect patients with rides to medical appointments and address transportation barriers to health.

Lack of transportation can mean people miss important medical appointments including prenatal visits or cancer screenings.

A $208,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation will allow Indiana University Health to develop and implement a new ride software program for patients. 

Jami Marsh, executive director of system philanthropic strategy for the IU Health Foundation, says the tool aims to provide better care access.

Photo by Dan Margolies, KCUR

Nine months ago, things were looking bleak for Hillsboro Community Hospital, a 15-bed facility in central Kansas about 50 miles north of Wichita. 

The critical access hospital appeared to be facing the same fate as four other rural hospitals in Kansas that have closed over the past three years. 

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