In today’s episode of The Story, from American Public Media, listeners hear from Sister Anne Brooks, a physician who has been running a clinic in Mississippi for almost 30 years.
She talks about the challenges of treating patients in a rural area, the effect the lack of care has on people and how she makes ends meet in a poor community. Brooks sometimes takes things in trade for her medical services – her payments have included catfish, crookneck squash and chainsaw services.
Her efforts go beyond running the clinic. She is a member of the community and talks about building community spirit. There was no emergency room in the area so her home has often served as the ER; once she even delivered twins in her backyard.
She also discusses the cultural realities of being a white woman who came to treat a largely African-American community. When she arrived at the clinic, there were separate waiting rooms for white patients and African American patients – something she put a stop to. She describes how she adjusted her behavior to gain her patients’ acceptance and trust.
Brooks says modern health care relies too much on MRIs and CT scans and too little on clinical exams. She says young doctors and nurse practitioners who rotate through her clinic don’t know how to give a good physical.
From a shrinking physician workforce to disparities in health care, important stories about rural health abound. Even if your newsroom is in a bustling city, there are untold rural health stories down the road.
So join us in St. Louis on June 3 for this special free workshop to help you find and cover health stories in rural America. Just join AHCJ – or make sure your membership is up to date – to attend. The workshop includes breakfast and lunch.