A seven-state news investigation revealed plenty of problems facing rural patients but also a variety of creative attempts to solve them. The head of the National Rural Health Association puts it this way: “Everyone realizes we’re at a crisis point.”
ByChelsea Keenan, IowaWatch; Sara Konrad Baranowski, Iowa Falls Times Citizen; Natalie Krebs, Iowa Public Radio; Mark Mahoney, N’west Iowa REVIEW and Michaela Ramm, The Gazette |
Hospital leaders say a policy fix is needed to ensure the future of rural hospitals in Iowa and across the country that are succumbing to financial pressures and closing their doors. Until that fix comes, though, Iowa’s network of rural community hospitals is making tough choices and smart partnerships to get by, a series of interviews by Iowa news organizations collaborating with IowaWatch revealed. Some have dropped OB-GYN services. Smaller hospitals have turned to larger ones to form partnerships, which can
result in the elimination of services to be more cost-efficient but forces
patients to drive out of town for health care. Other efforts to maintain local
hospital care include shifting to more outpatient care, the interviews show.
This podcast of an original IowaWatch Connection radio report lets those in the Midwest U.S. trying to attract the necessary resources to meet mental health care demand in flood-stricken regions tell you about the problem. It includes one health care center that is trying to address the health care worker shortage head-on with a full-time recruiter.
Psychologist Lauren Welter says she faces an ethical issue with no easy answer on a regular basis: Should she take on more clients and provide less care to those she already sees, or turn away potential clients who have no alternatives?
FLOODED SENSES: MEETING MENTAL HEALTH CARE DEMAND IN DISASTER-STICKEN IOWA. Iowa does not have enough psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists or other mental health care providers to handle an increasing need to care for farmers dealing with relentless flooding this year, several mental health experts IowaWatch interviewed warned.
A stigma exists in agricultural communities when it comes to seeking mental healthcare. Moreover, Kyle Godwin, who recently researched patterns in farmer suicide for his University of Iowa School of Public Health master’s thesis, said his research data might suggest that doing anything to improve farmer mental health care will be difficult unless something is done to end this stigma. Paradoxically, Godwin’s research showed that in regions of Iowa that had a higher saturation of mental healthcare professionals, there were more farmer suicides, not less. “Of course, naturally, you want to think that the places with mental health centers are going to have lower suicide rates, and studies have found that with the general population, that a higher proportion of healthcare providers and mental healthcare providers have generally related to lower suicide rates,” Godwin, who grew up on an Iowa farm, said in an IowaWatch interview. “But then I think we have to remember that for when we’re talking about farmers… just in rural areas, in general, I should say, you know, stigma may play a more prominent role.”
Many mental healthcare providers IowaWatch spoke with pointed to stigma as a major roadblock when trying to treat farmers.
Since the August 2017 accident, Tate Manahl has endured more than 30 surgeries to repair severe injuries to his legs and internal organs. FairWarning has identified 133 cases of young children being injured by backovers of riding mowers since 2004.
Beginning and attending college or graduate school can be a major life transition for many students. It especially becomes difficult, however, for students with mental illness who move away from home and care designed to deal with their specific health care problem.
On a summer morning near Dayton, Ohio, a temporary worker began his first day with a commercial roofing company around 6:30 a.m.
Mark Rainey, 60, was assigned to a crew to rip off and dispose of an old bank-building roof. Within hours, as the heat index reached 85 degrees, his co-workers noticed the new guy was “walking clumsily,” then became ill and collapsed, according to documents from the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration. Rushed to the hospital on Aug. 1, 2012, Rainey was diagnosed with heat stroke and a core body temperature of 105.4 degrees; he died three weeks later. For the next 6 ½ years, the circumstances surrounding Rainey’s death became a vigorously fought battle between his employer and OSHA, highlighting the lack of a clear standard on heat protection for outdoor workers.