In Nebraska, small communities are struggling to receive the proper medical care that is needed. Taylor Walker spends an entire day traveling to her primary care physician and traveling back home. This means time needs to be taken off of work for the day and day-to-day schedules are disrupted.
In Arthur County, there are 465 people in the small town and this small town is suffering. Often times, the residents are known to go longer without seeing a physician because of the travel to other bigger towns and cities.
This story is a common story across the United States, since 2010 over 100 rural hospitals and clinics have been closed. This issue affects these small communities all over and the healthcare industry.
Rural community residents, on average, are considered to be poor. In some areas, the average income is just over $9,000 per capita. Furthermore, more children are living in poverty levels, and because of this, government support and tobacco habits are predominant. There is a lack of public transportation for these patient’s which can cause for missed appointments.
These areas are in desperate need of improving rural healthcare.
At least 53 percent of rural Americans lack access to 25 Mbps bandwidth to provide them with the necessary internet speed set in place by the Federal Communication Commission. With a lack of internet speed, telemedicine can be difficult.
On the other hand, for rural communities who aren’t facing this issue telemedicine is the best option to provide access to physicians to these patients. There are several Nebraska based healthcare systems that are expanding their telemedicine practices to help serve these communities. The two well-known ones are:
Bryan Medical Center in Lincoln
Methodist Healthcare in Fremont
Since 1990, the Rural Health Education Network, UNMC and the Nebraska State College System have been trying to be ahead of this epidemic. A scholarship was created to provide students the funding needed to attend one of these colleges and upon graduation the students are guaranteed admission into UNMC, once their degree is completed the student then returns to their rural community and practices there.
While this program has had over 600 students graduate and continue their career with UNMC, the colleges are noticing it’s time to revamp the scholarship program. There needs to be better collaboration and communication between the universities, communities and the state of Nebraska. As stated above, rural communities are typically considered more poverty stricken than urban areas. The financial burden of a medical degree could hinder future students from attending.
The UnityPoint Health system has reached out to investment bankers to raise money for the following programs:
Better healthcare services
The system is looking to gain these services and healthcare devices to improve patient care systems while lowering healthcare costs for the community. With this initiative, it’s bound to positively impact the community in one way or another.
This is an effort to improving rural healthcare to help their patients and community! Overall, the state of Nebraska has many strides to continue to grow the healthcare infrastructure in these communities.
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